The Danish company's organic portfolio consists of colors, flavors, seasonings and dairy and probiotic cultures that conform to the National Organic Program's requirements for foods 'made with organic ingredients'.
Compliance with the NOP is through self-assessment, and has involved Chr Hansen conducting a review of the purchasing, regulatory, development, and manufacturing of its suppliers and processes.
According to the Organic Trade Association's 2004 Manufacturers' Survey, the organic foods industry reached $10.8 billion in 2003 and has grown at an average rate of 19.5 percent per year since 1997.
Market researcher Euromonitor predicts that sales of packaged organic foods alone will be worth $8.6 billion at retail by 2009 - up from 5.1 billion in 2003.
Speaking at the recent IFT show in New Orleans, Thomas Harding, president of organic consulting firm AgriSystems International, called the organic industry a "sleeping giant", and said there are "strong signs that the giant is awakening."
To make the most of these opportunities, manufacturers have to find organic ingredients that are consistent and can be conveniently incorporated into formulations - an undertaking that Chr. Hansen says is often tricky.
"Sourcing and formulating organic ingredients can present challenges and unexpected results for food processors, as organic ingredients can significantly impact the product development process, as well as the finished product quality and shelf life," it said.
In particular, colors derived from natural sources can be less stable, and it may be harder to achieve specific hues. According to the company, however, Chr. Hansen's range of organic colors is acid, heat and light stable, and some can also be used as phytonutrients.
Its customized flavors and seasonings are designed to meet functional and taste requirements, and are also derived from non-synthetic sources and produced without the use of synthetic solvents, carrier systems or artificial preservatives.
The NOP compliant dairy cultures are suitable for use in cheese, yogurt and other fermented milk products, and have acidification, gas formation, flavor, texture, and phage resistance characteristics. The probiotic cultures BB-12 Bifidobacterium and LA-5 Lactobacillus acidophilus, also conform to the NOP specifications.
For those companies intent on going organic, the need for ingredients is more pressing than ever, since a Maine district court last month ruled last month that an organic product must contain over 95 percent organic materials, as opposed to the 70 percent previously.