Global leading innovation service provider Azelis recently expanded its global flavours and fragrances platform with an agreement to acquire majority shares of Ashapura Aromas in India. With the addition of Mumbai-based Ashapura’s comprehensive portfolio, Azelis will be able to offer a lateral value chain with more breadth and depth of ingredients, enhancing the innovative solutions it offers in the Indian food market. The company also plans to leverage Ashapura’s network of principals and customers, finding opportunities to efficiently expand within the food market in India through cross-selling and building stronger partnerships. To find out more about the company’s growth plans in India, nuFFooDS Spectrum spoke to Dipan Dalal, Business Director, Azelis India- Food & Nutrition Business. Edited excerpts-
Please share more about the company’s presence in the food ingredients market in India.
Azelis has been actively developing its portfolio of specialty ingredients and food additives in India, becoming a leading player in the Indian food ingredients market and a one-stop-shop for customers. By building strong relationships with key players of the food industry, we are able to offer a comprehensive range of food ingredients from first-class manufacturers that allow us to support customers with their formulation challenges. Our knowledgeable team includes technical experts in food, beverage and nutrition, with years of experience in the industry, and who are supported by our recently upgraded dedicated food application laboratory in India. Innovation is at the heart of what we do, we can support in choosing the right ingredient combination for formulations to achieve superior results. From process, texture and stability, taste and colour, to nutritional profile, we assist our customers in the development, customisation and troubleshooting of their formulations, demonstrating the value-add we bring through our innovative solutions.
How was the company’s performance in the food ingredients space in FY 2021-22?
We are very proud of how our Indian Food & Nutrition business has grown and expanded over the past few years, particularly in our top three categories: dairy & beverages, bakery, and confectionery. This is thanks to the fruitful partnerships we have developed and the new mandates we have won, allowing us to strengthen our comprehensive portfolio of products to support additional food segments. We have also built a strong team of sales and technical colleagues, with the know-how to support our customers with their formulation and ingredient requirements. Our dedicated Food & Nutrition laboratory specialises in all the key applications of the food industry in India, including dairy, bakery, confectionery, savory, and the growing niche segments, plant-based ingredients and meat alternatives. All this together enabled our strong performance in the Indian food ingredients market.
What are your views on the plant-based ingredients and meat alternatives scenario in India? Are you planning to explore the plant-based ingredients business in India?
For the Indian market, vegetarianism and vegan food are quite deeply embedded in the local culture. We definitely see an opportunity to provide plant-based ingredients and meat alternatives as part of the portfolio of innovative formulations and solutions we offer to customers. By exploring new protein sources, there is room to customise formulations and products to local tastes. Our team of experts have already been working on plant-based alternative concepts, for example we recently assisted a customer with developing and launching a new oat milk for the Indian market. We plan to continue on this path, exploring further options to provide plant-based alternatives, which is also in line with our sustainability ambitions.
What do you think are the challenges in the food ingredients space in India? How are you addressing the same?
One of the main challenges in the food industry is around health and nutrition, in particular, developing sustainable formulations for the market that are healthy, nutritious and tasty. Post the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers are more conscious of overall health and wellness, including what they eat and drink. To address this challenge, we are developing formulations that are both enjoyable and healthy, by fortifying traditional recipes, substituting certain ingredients for healthier alternatives, and enriching products with fibre or other nutrients. Developing healthy solutions is also part of our Action 2025 sustainability strategy, where we aim to influence conscious consumption with natural, organic, and plant-based foods. Another challenge is the fragmented food industry, considering the size of India and the challenge in reaching out to customers and supporting them in their development. To address this, we recently introduced the Customer Portal and e-Lab, to support customers with trends, formulation inspiration, product information, and 24/7 access to our technical expertise.
What are your future plans in the food ingredients space in India?
We will continue to invest in our innovation capabilities, deepen the technical expertise of our team, and focus on growing together with our principals and customers, to ensure we continue to provide a first-class experience and innovative solutions. We also aim to strengthen our knowledge of the food market, to better understand the needs of our customers and customise our solutions accordingly. By leveraging our digital solutions, including our CRM system, Customer Portals and e-Labs, we will also be able to accurately capture additional information, allowing for further insights into ingredient recommendations and formulation requirements. Finally, we will make certain that our solutions leverage market trends such as natural preservation, clean labeling, and fortification, as we also strengthen our lateral value chain with plant-based alternatives and nutraceuticals, all with the overall objective of remaining the innovation partner of choice for our stakeholders.
Azelis recently inaugurated a state-of-the-art Regional Innovation Centre for Food & Nutrition in Singapore. What is the objective of this centre? Does the company have any plans to start one in India or other APAC countries?
Each Regional Innovation Center (RIC) serves a dedicated market segment, on a regional scale, and the one in Singapore is the very first at Azelis in the Food & Nutrition (F&N) market. The Singapore RIC orchestrates innovation within the Asia Pacific region, and connects all the local F&N labs across Asia Pacific, including the food lab in India. Equipped with state-of-the-art lab equipment, the RIC is also able to support the region with advanced projects. Thanks to the RIC, our technical expertise and innovation capabilities will be accessible to a wider audience within the food and beverage industry, allowing us to further grow our business in the region and ensure we continue to focus on developing innovative solutions that are market-leading and sustainable. We aim to develop Regional Innovation Centers in other countries globally for the other market segments that we serve, as part of our overall growth strategy to ensure we deliver on our brand promise, ‘Innovation through formulation’.
In the APAC region, which country contributes the highest revenue in the food ingredients space? Where does India stand in terms of revenue generation?
We are very proud of the comprehensive portfolio of ingredients we have purposefully curated in India, along with our strong growth performance, which is a testament to our capabilities in a very competitive market and the trust our principals and customers have in us, and our ability to deliver innovative solutions. We will ensure we continue to perform to the best of our abilities, as we aim to be the leading provider of innovative solutions for the specialty chemicals and food ingredients industry.