Fighting off eroding prices for enzymes, manufacturers must seek out value-added propositions, delving deeper into new product development to find the answers.
Competing in the mature €200 million food enzyme market, trundling along with growth rates of about three per cent, leading players are obliged to focus on advanced technical knowledge to protect their market share through fresh gains.
Knowledge that dances in step with current and future consumer trends must be a priority.
According to market analysts Frost & Sullivan there are at least 35 companies active in the European market for food enzymes. European firms Novozymes, Danisco, DSM and Chr Hansen have the lion's share of the business between them.
Danisco leapfrogged into the top four earlier this year following the acquisition of US biotech firm Genencor. The Danish firm claims the protein engineering, protein production and process sciences capabilities gained through the sagacious Genencor buy-out will feed Danisco's food enzyme discovery capabilities.
"We have added a host of new patents to our portfolio on this acquisition that will lead us to greater efficiency, as well as immediately broadening our product development capacity," Leif Kjærgaard, senior vice president, Innovation & Technology at Danisco tells FoodNavigator.com.
The goal is to become the leading global supplier within the ingredients area including enzymes for food, feed and industrial applications, adds the vice president.
Communication will be key to the success of any sort of R&D platform, and with Genencor headquartered across the Atlantic, IT integration is essential. According to Kjærgaard, this challenge is on track.
In 2004, starch and sugar processing, bakery, and dairy enzymes constituted the largest share of the food enzyme market, with the highest growth rates in nutrition and dietary supplements market.
Fruit processing and brewing markets are almost stagnant, claims Frost & Sullivan, although wine-making enzymes do offer some potential growth.
The analysts add that in general, each supplier offers different products in different concentrations. Enzymes are usually quantified by their activity, not their concentration in terms of protein.
Even within the same application or end-user sector, prices can vary considerably for the same product depending on the quantities sold.
Depending on the conditions during the fermentation process and the degree of purification, enzymes will usually have varying side activities-which can positively or negatively influence the value of a product for a certain application.
Prices can also vary depending on the microorganism used. For example, animal rennet would cost more than pectinases.