Japanese food and ingredients company Ajinomoto is acquiring 50.1% of More Than Gourmet Holdings, an Ohio-based producer of French sauces and stocks. Financial details were not released.
The acquisition will expand Ajinomoto's integrated food solutions business in North America, the company said in a press release.
Ajinomoto, which specializes in the food and amino acids business, said the U.S. B2B market for prepared takeout foods, foodservice and restaurants is worth $18.3 billion, or about 40% of the global market. The company estimated the growth rate between 2011 and 2025 at 3.2%.
Ajinomoto could benefit from its majority stake in More Than Gourmet in several ways. The company noted liquid seasonings such as stocks, broths and sauces are all increasing when compared to powdered seasonings because of their convenience and image.
Food ingredients and liquid seasoning manufacturers can also collaborate to allow sharing of knowledge, techniques and ingredients, Ajinomoto said. Knowledge of different manufacturing methods and tastes from the liquid seasoning company can be incorporated by Ajinomoto in ways that benefit both parties — plus, they can be combined with ingredients to allow more customized menus to be offered to customers.
More Than Gourmet knows the trends and preferences of U.S. consumers and has relationships with CPG manufacturers, as well as foodservice and restaurant companies, according to Food Ingredients First. This positioning is likely to assist Ajinomoto's future business plans and bolster its direct sales efforts in America.
Ajinomoto is already well known for being the first ingredients company to isolate the flavor-enhancing ingredient kokumi in the 1980s. It did the same with monosodium glutamate to add more savory flavor — or umami — into Asian and other dishes. Ajinomoto has isolated the identified kokumi peptides and created a tasteless powder to incorporate enhanced flavor into foods.
More Than Gourmet, founded in 1993, prides itself on creating sauces and stocks by using high-quality and fresh food ingredients. The company, which only makes sauces and stocks, claims to use old world culinary recipes but takes them apart and reassembles them. Its premium ingredients list and manufacturing process could be especially attractive to companies and consumers willing to pay more for more natural, authentically produced products.
Liquid seasonings have grown in popularity as more consumers look for increased flavors in their foods. Last year, McCormick & Co. responded to this trend by introducing bone broth, slow-cooker seasonings and Asian noodles. These and other such products appeal to busy people who don't have a lot of time for preparation but still want flavorful home-cooked meals.
Liquid seasonings are highly adaptable and easy to use, and they can be included in many foods such as soups, stews, noodles, eggs and meats. They also can add value by replacing other major ingredients some people are trying to limit or avoid — mainly salt, sugar and fat — yet keeping the complex flavors consumers want.
According to Allied Market Research, the global food and beverage flavors market was valued at $12.4 billion in 2016. It could hit $18.1 billion by 2023, which would be a compound annual growth rate of 5.5% between 2017 and 2023. Ajinomoto is clearly aware of the demand for flavor, convenience and healthy eating, the major reason it took a majority interest in More than Gourmet. As these trends grow in popularity, it would not be a surprise to see Ajinomoto or other food and ingredients companies add to their flavor portfolios. If its ownership of More than Gourmet succeeds, it could decide to go back and purchase the remaining stake it doesn't already own.