Europe ‘leading innovation’ in natural food ingredients, says Roha MD

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Europe is “leading” innovation in the global trend towards natural ingredients in the food and beverage industry and Roha’s acquisition of Italian firm New Food Industry will give India’s Roha a bigger piece of the action, managing director Brijesh Tibrewala tells FoodNavigator.

Indian colours manufacturer Roha has entered into an agreement to acquire Italian dried ingredients maker New Food Industries. The deal will expand Roha’s access to the natural ingredients sector – an area that the company has identified as an important strategic trend.

“The acquisition will strengthen our position in the natural food ingredients market. It definitely provides us with an additional edge to the natural ingredients sector and we look forward to capitalising the potential market with our innovative offerings,” Tibrewala explained.

Demand for dehydrated fruit and veg on the up

New Food Industry was founded in 1974 and markets its natural ingredients under the GardenFresh trade mark.

The Verona-based company manufactures natural dehydrated ingredients using advanced drying technologies. The company’s sweet and savoury products can be used in “most” food and beverage applications to add colour, flavour and nutritional value to finished packaged foods, according to Roha.

New Food Industry’s savoury products include natural enhancers, aromatic herbs and dehydrated vegetables. It’s sweet dehydrated ingredients include fruit pieces, fruit and vegetable powders and natural sweeteners.

Tibrewala believes that demand for these products is only going one way: Up. “Due to its increased shelf life, operational convenience, and nutritional value dehydrated fruit and vegetable powders will only witness further demand in the future and Roha is now equipped to meet the demands of the evolving customer needs.”

Europe ‘leading’ natural, healthy trend

According to Tibrewala’s assessment, European food manufacturers and ingredients suppliers are showing the way as global demand for foods made with natural ingredients and clean labels increases.

He commented: “Europe is leading the trend of innovation in the food and beverage industry and food manufacturers are finding solutions to meet their evolving demand. Roha, recognising the need, has acquired New Foods Industry, offering innovative solutions to the rising demand for nutritional and natural food products.”

Food makers in Europe are faced with the contrasting consumer desire to lower the sugar content of food without compromising on taste. There is also growing demand in the region for products made with natural colourings. As such, there has been a bump in demand for dehydrated vegetable and fruit powders.

The integration of New Food Industry into its organisation will bring it “closer” to both customers and suppliers in Europe, Tibrewala suggested. “Bringing Roha into the segment of dehydrated natural ingredients gets the group even closer to its customers.”

The Indian company also noted that the Verona region is one of the most “abundant and diverse” agricultural areas in Europe, meaning New Food Industry benefits from close access to many key natural raw materials.

Leveraging global organisation for growth

While demand for dehydrated fruit- and vegetable-based ingredients is rising in Europe, Tibrewala stressed that this is also a global trend. Roha, therefore, plans to feed New Food Industry’s products into its global sales channels.

“We are already working towards including New Food’s ingredients in our sales channels,” the managing director revealed.
 
The Indian firm operates 23 sales offices and the group is allied with 110 distributors and stock points. Roha’s extensive distribution channels will enable New Food’s products to reach additional customers, it is hoped.

Tibrewala observed that New Food’s product portfolio is “complementary” to Roha’s own product range. “Coupling ranges will allow Roha leverage abundant opportunities in natural market segments.”

Roha also plans to integrate research and development functions. “[New Food Industry’s R&D personnel] will become part of our global teams and we are very excited to have them join us,” Tibrewala said.

Roha’s strategic priorities mean that it invests “heavily” to drive innovation. The company’s production facility in the Roha district of Maharashtra, India, is supported by 12 other manufacturing centres and application labs in the US, Brazil, Mexico, the UK, Spain, South Africa, Egypt, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, China and Australia.

Roha has been expanding its colourings offering through M&A, with three deals in this year alone. Roha entered into an agreement to take control of Italian plant and fruit colouring manufacturer Essential and acquired Delta's colours business to expand in the Middle East. 

Roha did not reveal the purchase price of this latest piece of M&A but Tibrewala said the acquisition of New Food is expected to contribute to profitable growth. “The deal will generate several interesting synergies for the Group and create a very solid growth platform for us moving forward.”

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