Corbion said in a release it will invest in key growth areas such as natural food preservation and lactic acid through 2025 while looking to exit its co-packing blending and frozen dough businesses.
Corbion said the company will now have three business units: sustainable food solutions, which will include preservation, functional systems and single ingredients; lactic acid and specialties; and incubator, which will develop products involving algae-based omega-3, algae proteins (in cooperation with Nestlé) and a lactic-acid based co-polymer platform.
The Dutch food and biochemicals company said the changes to its business strategy "builds on Corbion’s fundamentals and strengths by bringing further focus to the business portfolio." In a statement, Olivier Rigaud, Corbion's CEO, said the shift further accelerate its move from an ingredients company into a solutions one. "We plan to expand on this solutions model with natural food preservation and functional systems as our core capabilities, enabling us to accelerate growth in close adjacencies,' he said.
With major changes to its business model, Corbion hopes to emphasize areas where it expects more growth and shed others that no longer fit.
Rigaud said "sustainability is at the heart of what we do," and Corbion is looking to gain from the global effort to develop more sustainable products and solutions. He said the company has aligned its strategy with the United Nations' Sustainable Developments Goals, adding that zero hunger; good health and well-being; and responsible consumption and production targets are areas where Corbion can have the most impact.
Rigaud signaled a business model shift late last year in an interview with Bioplastics News. He said the company's sustainability approach meshed well with his own views, which is why he joined Corbion as CEO last August after leadership roles with plant extracts company Tate & Lyle and Naturex. Rigaud also told the publication many companies talk up sustainability and social engagement, but few really act on it.
One thing that "attracted me is the growth potential of the company. I immediately saw all sorts of chances and opportunities to take Corbion to the next level. Major investments are coming," he told Bioplastics News.
According to the company's strategy update, Corbion will continue to invest more than 4% of its sales in R&D to support growth. Corbion expects to open a lactic acid plant in Thailand by 2023, which the company would operate "at the highest sustainability standards and lowest costs." This will include biodegradable polylactic acid sourced from renewable resources such as corn starch or sugar cane.
Corbion also operates an algae factory in Brazil, which Rigaud said is fully integrated with the sugar facility of agribusiness and food company Bunge. Electricity to operate the plant comes from burning the sugar factory's residues. This type of cooperative production could help both firms keep costs down and take fuller advantage of the raw materials involved.
Corbion is into other innovations as well. Just last month, the company introduced a powder ingredient to replace traditional salt curing in fish. The product reportedly combines salt's flavor and functionality with vinegar's antimicrobial properties to help inhibit listeria and extend shelf life.
A focus on sustainability, natural food preservation and on-trend ingredients such as algae appears to have positioned Corbion for future success with the hope that the shift will translate into faster growth at its business.