Irish ingredients firm Kerry acquired Pevesa Biotech, a Spanish company specializing in non-allergenic and organic plant protein ingredients for infant, general and clinical nutrition. Kerry said the transaction will expand its position in the hydrolyzed plant protein space and enhance its ability to service the fast-growing organic plant protein market.
Pevesa specializes in sustainable, non-GMO, plant-based proteins. The firm's products include organic and conventional rice protein hydrolysates and pea protein isolate, plus partially hydrolyzed pea and rice proteins. The company also makes residue- and chemical-free biofertilizers containing plant protein hydrolysates for use in organic farming.
John Reilly, Kerry's vice president of business development proteins, said in a statement that his company was attracted to Pevesa due to its expertise, innovation, manufacturing leadership and patented technology in the non-allergenic plant protein market.
Kerry has been expanding its presence in the plant-based protein ingredients market, so the acquisition of Pevesa is a continuation of that strategy. Not only does the Spanish company bring patented technology in the non-allergenic plant protein market, but it has expertise in organic and conventional biofertilizers for producers of fruit, olives and specialist gardens. This could be a valuable addition to round out Kerry's portfolio.
Last year, Kerry launched its Radicle brand of plant-based ingredients for proteins and dairy alternatives. The company said the move was designed to boost nutrition in plant-based foods and result in more authentic tastes and cleaner labels.
These aspects, along with the nutritional profile, higher protein content and fewer ingredients could improve adoption of plant-based meat products, according to a 2019 Kerry white paper, so manufacturers are likely to be on the lookout for these ingredients to include in their formulations.
Kerry said the plant-based protein market is projected to hit $24.5 billion by 2026, at a compound annual growth rate of 9.1%. The category includes plant-based burgers and meat-free sausages, along with an ever-increasing array of food and beverage products free of animal-sourced ingredients. This trend is likely to continue as more consumers try out flexitarian diets and add more plant-based items to their daily menus.
Competitors also are looking for growth, so there are other opportunities for ingredients firms to take advantage of it. Roquette has been developing pea protein ingredients designed for specific uses. Cargill has invested in pea protein producer Puris, Israel Chemicals is expanding its Rovitaris protein technology for the meat alternatives market, and Ingredion just launched a pea protein isolate line said to contain at least 80% protein.
As more plant-based ingredient options become available, manufacturers are likely to have even more suppliers ready to provide them with whatever combination of qualities they're looking for in order to appeal to this ever-growing segment of the food industry.
The ingredients market has been a hotbed on M&A activity during the last few years as companies seek to create a powerhouse that can address more of a food manufacturers' needs, including meeting multiple trends such as functional and better-for-you foods. By combining the portfolio and research prowess, the merged company could develop new products faster or provide additional convenience for their customers by acting as a one-stop shop.
DuPont announced last December that will merge its nutrition business with International Flavors & Fragrances in a deal the companies valued at $26.2 billion. A year earlier, IFF acquired Frutarom Industries for $7.1 billion. IFF reportedly beat Kerry for DuPont.
Consolidation, both among large players and mid-size and smaller up-and-comers in flavors and ingredients, is unlikely to abate anytime soon in the race to keep up with shifting consumer demands in such areas as plant-based foods.