Avril strengthens lecithin range with acquisition

Novastell supplies lecithins and phospholipids from soy, sunflower seeds and rapeseed. © iStock

Oil giant Avril has strengthened its lecithin portfolio with the acquisition of French supplier Novastell.

Founded in 2006, Normandy-based Novastell supplies a range of organic, conventional and non-GMO lecithins in liquid and powder form that are derived from soy, sunflower and rapeseed, as well as phospholipids.

According to the agri-food giant,  the acquisition is a strategic move that will strengthen and structure its oil and ingredients platform.

Olivier Tillous-Borde, director of Avril’s oil & ingredient solutions platform said: "After the development in 2017 of two units for sunflower lecithin, a natural emulsifier which offers a promising alternative to soy lecithin, the acquisition of Novastell will accelerate the growth of our activities in France and internationally, while increasingly focusing on providing responses to the needs of our customers.

Financial details of the deal, which was finalised at the end of last week (7 July), were not disclosed but a spokesperson for Avril said Novastell’s 12 employees would be fully integrated into Avril’s Oil and Ingredient Solutions platform, meaning no restructuring or job losses.

Chairman and founder of Novastell Pierre Lebourd said the purchase would allow Novastell’s teams to continue to find opportunities for innovation in nutrition within the subsidiaries of the Avril Group.

Lecithins are emulsifiers, used to blend two liquids that do not normally mix - oil and water.

Widely used across food categories, they also have the following functions:

  • In chocolate they prevent whitening
  • In biscuits they help with demoulding and reduce cracking
  • In confectionery they improve the homogeneity of mixtures
  • In infant formula they regulate the hydration properties of milk powder, helping it to dissolve quickly in hot and cold liquids
  • In animal feed, they help assimilate added nutrients 

Avril, which today employs 7,200 people across 21 countries, began as a cooperative set up by French farmers in 1983 to ensure markets for their agricultural products. It was previously known as Sofiprotéol and last year achieved a turnover of­ €5.9 billion.   

Its consumer-facing brands of cooking oil include the names Diester, Sanders, Lesieur, Puget, Matines, Bunica and Taous.

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