Nexira enters strategic partnership for nutritionals, not giving up its acquisition plans

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02 May 2018 --- Nexira, a global leader in natural and organic ingredients for the food, health and nutrition industries, has announced a strategic partnership agreement with Omega Pharma NV, one of the largest OTC healthcare companies in Europe and Inqpharm Group (a Zaluvida company), a specialty pharmaceutical company.

The three major international players in the nutraceutical industry signed a “novation” agreement on January 15, 2018, whereby Inqpharm transferred the ingredient activity previously supplied to Omega Pharma to Nexira. Details of the partnership have now been revealed to NutritionInsight

Nexira, a world leader in gum acacia and botanicals, has deep expertise in sourcing, manufacturing and supplying high-quality natural ingredients for the Food and Health industries. The move comes as Nexira, a €116m turnover company headquartered in France, looks to strengthen its business on the road to becoming a €150m company in the next three to four years. Prescription-free and healthcare products in European countries are growing markets, the company notes. The company is still actively searching external growth opportunities in the US and entered advanced discussions with some targets.

Omega Pharma is a global branded OTC market leader that offers to consumers an extensive portfolio of innovative products through a wide network of pharmacists and retailers. InQpharm is a global life science company which develops first class, highly effective and safe innovations complying with the highest global industry standards.

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Mathieu Dondain,
Managing Director, Nexira

Mathieu Dondain, Managing Director at Nexira tells NutritionInsight. “It’s a strategic agreement whereby the three companies can create more synergies with our different expertise. Ingredients that were previously supplied by Inqpharm to Omega Pharma will now be supplied by Nexira.” The move will allow Nexira closer access to customers and the big OTC retailers in Europe. 

The innovation agreement signed between Nexira, Omega and Inqpharm will create synergies and provide added value to each company by combining expertise in sourcing, science, production facilities and access to markets to build a stronger offering for consumers. The agreement fits perfectly in Nexira’s Vision 2020 strategy to expand its offering of natural and innovative products through strategic partnerships with customers and key players of the Health and Wellness industry.

For Dondain, the move offers supply, science and sourcing benefits. “On the one hand, you have InQpharm a science-based company that is working on creating new solutions and on the other, you have Nexira, which has the long-standing expertise in supplying and sourcing ingredients and all the logistics that come with this. It will make distribution easier for us,” he notes. 

Omega Pharma, part of Perrigo Company’s Consumer Healthcare International (CHCI) segment, develops, manufactures, markets, and distributes well-known European OTC brands in the natural health and vitamins, cough, cold and allergy, smoking cessation, personal care and derma-therapeutics and lifestyle categories. Perrigo is the world's largest manufacturer of OTC healthcare products and supplier of infant formulas for the store brand market. The company is also a leading provider of branded OTC products throughout Europe and the US, as well as a leading producer of "extended topical" prescription drugs. Perrigo, headquartered in Ireland, sells its products primarily in North America and Europe, as well as in other markets, including Australia, Israel and China.

Few details were given on the specific ingredients being transferred, but for Dondain, the business move fits within the company’s strategy on several levels. “First of all, to keep diversifying our product portfolio in the health industry. We are really supplying this industry – the OTC, nutraceutical arena, and going further in this route,” he notes. 

Moreover, the move is solid step towards one of the company’s 2020 targets: reinforcing value-added partnerships. 

“This is a strong partnership with a major key player in the retail nutraceutical industry – Omega Pharma – and a market leader delivering innovative solutions for human and animal health –InQpharm. We need this collaborative approach. These three companies are creating a synergy,” he claims. Thirdly, he reveals that other projects will be finalized through the end of this year. “This will be on the NPD side and there are some interesting things coming,” he adds. 

Nexira is already active in the weight management space, offering the following three nutritionals:
• ID-alg: brown seaweed extract which inhibits digestive enzymes and helps control caloric intake.
• Cacti-Nea : prickly pear extract with positive effects on water retention.
• NeOpuntia: healthy lipophilic fiber from cactus leaves.

In terms of other expansion plans, Dondain notes how the company is on the M&A trail in the US and potentially in Europe too.

“We are still searching for a good match in M&A, so we have approached several companies in North America. We have had some discussions that have not finished yet and these are going on for potential US acquisitions in the very near future,” he notes. 

“We have made several attempts and were very close to the final stage but it did not go through yet. But we will keep searching in the US, and also Europe too, to reinforce our research projects,” he notes. 

Partnerships in the US could be formed with nutritional/nutraceutical natural ingredients suppliers. In Europe, Nexira is more interested in expanding in hydrocolloids. “Acacia gum is the DNA of our traditional business. We still have a leadership to maintain in this niche. Hydrocolloids could create some synergies for us,” he adds. 

But Dondain stresses that Nexira will not be moving beyond the ingredients sector. “We are purely interested in B2B ingredient supplier acquisitions. We wanted to enter into nutraceuticals and don’t want to exclude food. We also want to be in the natural and organic offerings, but when we can also control as much as possible the plant process and the whole sourcing network,” he notes. 

Back in May 2016, FoodIngredientsFirst reported on how Nexira was eyeing protein and cognitive health as two new development platforms for the company, as it looks to meet ambitious growth targets, particularly for its Health division. This led to the launch of a product combining the cognitive potential of two sage extracts in synergy: Cognivia.

Nexira now also offers a range of protein products: sesame, pea protein and rice protein. These are high-quality products that are particularly suitable for the supplement/sports nutrition space, but it's yet to really take off.

“It’s a market that will shift in time, the demand is still high for whey protein, but there will be a shift toward natural and vegetarian, plant protein. This part will become more attractive. For now, we are still working on going mainstream. We will revisit this in the future to see if we can match the goal,” he notes.

Overall Dondain is confident about the outlook for natural nutrition as a whole. “As long as you are natural, organic, possibly plant-based and have some health benefits, and you can be transparent over origin and ingredients, then you have a product with very strong benefits,” he says. 

“We have also built very good synergies now because when you create good botanical extracts products that are using a carrier – like acacia gum – which is natural and organic vs. another type of carrier, it becomes a very attractive product. We see in the US that there is a big shift for these products that are very transparent and natural sounding,” he concludes.

By Robin Wyers

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