Chr. Hansen Natural Colors, which was created as a standalone company after its acquisition by investment firm EQT, is changing its name to Oterra, effective immediately. According to the company, the new name is inspired by the Latin word for "Earth."
The name change is meant to reflect Oterra’s commitment to providing "food that is natural, authentic, safe and sustainable," according to a statement. The 145-year-old business is only changing its name, and ownership and staffing will stay the same.
The news comes shortly after Chr. Hansen Natural Colors acquired Secna Natural Ingredients, a Spain-based company that makes red, purple and caramel colors from anthocyanins in grapes, black carrots, cabbage and beets. These recent moves help reinforce the company's focus on sustainability.
After EQT's acquisition of Chr. Hansen's Natural Colors business unit, it became clear that a name change was necessary for the new standalone company to truly establish itself as a force in the segment. At the time of the investment, EQT said it would invest in the natural colors division and bolster its digital infrastructure, sustainability capabilities and supply chain.
"We are no longer part of the Chr. Hansen group. The choice of a name that now focuses entirely on the natural and what we’re all about was the natural choice for us," CEO Odd Erik Hansen told Food Navigator.
Cees de Jong, board chair, said the relaunch as Oterra gives the company "a name and identity that encapsulates our purpose and sustainable value proposition. We see great growth ahead for Oterra and are confident the company will accelerate its development under its new brand."
The natural food color market could reach an estimated $1.77 billion this year, according to Zion Market Research.
The name change comes just a few weeks after Chr. Hansen Natural Colors acquired Secna, which has a 6-year history working with natural red and purple pigments. EQT has said it wanted to grow the color maker through acquisitions of other natural color companies, since the market is highly fragmented.
This name change will also give Oterra a unique identity as it jostles for business against a crowded field of competitors. This includes giant names such as Archer Daniels Midland and Danone Food North America, which has a line of organic, sustainably sourced colors for food and beverages, as well as privately-owned players like Kalsec.