Natural vanillin is a compound from the vanilla bean, the ‘fruit’ of the flowering vanilla orchid, which provides vanilla flavor. However the vanilla orchid must be propagated by hand, which is very labor intensive. As demand for vanilla flavors is increasing all the time, global vanilla production is struggling to keep up.
In January 2011, Evolva entered into a product partnership with IFF, and the Swiss company announced in February that it has achieved the production yield, titre (i.e. concentration) and productivity that will allow the commercial launch of its vanillin product
On 5 February 2013, Evolva and IFF also announced that they entered into the pre-production phase to develop and scale up the fermentation-derived vanillin for commercial application through a cost-effective, natural and sustainable route.
“The two companies are working to confirm scalability and yield targets through a yeast-based fermentation route during the pre-manufacturing phase. Based on current plans and expectations, Evolva expects its fermentation-derived vanillin product to be available for commercial launch in 2014,” said the company.
2014 will also see the company’s steviol glycoside product progress into pilot scale, with the first fermentation-derived steviol glycoside product expected to be available for commercial launch in 2015/2016, said Evolva.
As part of the agreement, Cargill made a US$5 million) equity investment in Evolva, with the Swiss company set to receive up to US$7.5 million in milestone payments.
Slightly further down the pipeline is a fermentation-derived saffron, which is expected to to be available for commercial launch in 2016. “Evolva’s current aim is to bring its saffron product as far as possible towards manufacturing and commercialisation before it considers entering into a product partnership with respect to the product,” said the company.
The shift to health and wellness
Commenting on the company’s strategy, CFO Jakob Dynnes Hansen said: “The shift towards ingredients for health, nutrition and wellness is also becoming more visible in our financials.
“In 2012, costs for clinical development came down significantly, helping us reduce our cash burn. At the same time, revenues from the new R&D partnerships and from our emerging product pipeline provide a good basis for a profitable future.”
In terms of health & wellness, the company acquired a resveratrol product from Fluxome Sciences A/S (Denmark) in November 2012. Despite being on the US market since 2010, high production costs prevented Fluxome from generating significant sales.
“Evolva expects to leverage the Technology Platform to reduce production costs, and thereby further strengthen the competitive position of its resveratrol product,” said Evolva.
“Evolva expects to be able to bring down the cost of goods to an economically viable level, so that it may generate a positive cash flow by 2014.”