'Crucial and future-orientated': BASF shifts into natural aromas with biotech tie-ups

By Kacey Culliney contact

- Last updated on GMT

Isobionics is highly specialised in biotech citrus oil components (Getty Images)
Isobionics is highly specialised in biotech citrus oil components (Getty Images)

Related tags: BASF, Fragrance, biotech, Naturals, acquisition

BASF has acquired Dutch aroma biotech specialist Isobionics and partnered with US metabolic engineering firm Conagen, shifting its business reach into natural aromas for the first time.

The speciality chemicals major said the tie-ups enabled it to address quality, availability and sustainability challenges facing the fragrance industry looking to increasingly use natural aromas.

BASF acquired Isobionics for an undisclosed sum and partnered with Conagen for an exclusive license to manufacture and market ferulic acid-based vanillin.

'Crucial and future-orientated' biotechnology

“By combining our own R&D excellence and broad market access with the know-how and expertise of Isobionics and Conagen, we intend to advance the technology for biotech-based aroma ingredients,” ​Julia Raquet, head of BASF’s Aroma Ingredients business, told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.

Both companies had specialised fermentation technology to produce a range of natural compounds and so the acquisition and partnership, Raquet said, provided BASF with a “crucial and future-orientated technology and product portfolio”.

“…We see high potential for biotech-based aroma ingredients. The overall aroma ingredients market is growing for both synthetic and biotech-based aroma ingredients. Nevertheless, the market for fermented / biotech-based ingredients is growing stronger than the market for most synthetic and naturally extracted ingredients.”

‘Constant challenges’ facing fragrance

Raquet said these tie-ups were particularly relevant at a time when there were increasing difficulties facing fragrance manufacturers operation in a growing natural space.

“Fluctuating product qualities, availability and sustainability are constant challenges to our fragrance customers, especially regarding natural ingredients.”

The acquisition and partnership, therefore, empowered BASF to address some of these issues, she said.

BASF was confident it could “make a difference in the natural aroma ingredients market at competitive price levels,”​ Raquet said, as it paired its broad market reach, excellent regulatory know-how and focus on traceability and quality with the biotechnology and fermentation expertise of Isobionics and Conagen. Isobionics was particularly strong in the area of citrus oil components and Conagen natural vanillin.

Last week, Firmenich also announced its plans to deepen its presence in naturals, stating it was set to acquire a minority stake in French natural ingredients specialist Robertet​.

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