In November of 2011, CNI (Colloïdes Naturels International) and BioSerae Laboratoires joined forces to become Nexira. These separate entities contributed unique expertise and industry clout in both the food and health segments of the market.
According to a press release announcing the merger, “The family-run group, founded in 1895 is the world leader in acacia gum (also known as gum Arabic) and a premier supplier of nutraceutical ingredients and botanical extracts for the food, nutrition and health & wellness industries.”
As consumer concerns like healthy aging, weight loss, non-GMO, and clean label continue to grow in importance, Nexira’s ingredient portfolio is well positioned to meet demand and is investing in its own future. Nexira invested €5M last year to extend the production capacity of its industrial facilities at Rouen and Serqueux and is preparing to invest in a production plant in India as well as a new plant in Ghana. The company is also eyeing an acquisition in North America and another in Europe.
High demand for natural gum
When it comes to food formulation, acacia gum hits a home run. It provides a 100 percent natural, chemical-free, non-GMO ingredient for improving texture, shelf life, and binding properties in finished goods. It can even be used to replace sugars while fortifying food—opening doors for possible health claims related to added fiber, prebiotic properties, and low sugar.
It’s also better tolerated by the digestive tract. A person can consume up to 50 grams per day of acacia gum without the common unpleasant side effects associated with inulin or fructooligosaccaride.
Nexira’s acacia gum—branded Fibergum—continues to see increased demand in recent years, Mathieu Dondain, executive account manager for Nexira, told Functional Ingredients. Nexira partners with local communities in Africa where the gum is sourced both to protect the raw materials and make the business as valuable for the community as possible.
The acacia tree grows wild in the deserts of Africa and the gum is collected during the dry season. Dondain told Functional Ingredients that in some cases the cropping of acacia gum provides the only source of revenue during the dry season for local populations. This financial reliability along with investments made by Nexira and partner NGO’s to build wells for clean water and to train locals to better cultivate and process acacia has brought some stability to these fragile desert communities.
BioSerae contributed a science- and industry-tested portfolio of nutraceutical ingredients when it joined with CNI to form Nexira. It started more than 30 years ago with science-backed cactus extracts. NeOpuntia, derived from dehydrated leaves of Opuntia ficus-indica (prickly pear cactus), is manufactured through a patented process using no solvants or chemicals, contributing a clean label benefit to finished products.
NeOptunia’s lipophilic properties help reduce the absorption of ingested fat in the stomach making it a ideal for use in weight-loss supplements and products. Available as a fine powder, granule, or fluid it can be used in various applications.
Like its predecessor Cacti-Nea is an extract of the prickly pear cactus. Its diuretic and detoxifying properties help to flush excess water from the body and in clinical trials it increased urine output by 27 percent in women with a BMI under 25. But unlike conventional diuretics, Cacti-Nea has shown no negative effect on blood pressure or on mineral balance in study subjects. Completely soluble and slightly sweet, Cacti-Nea is especially well suited to beverage applications.
What’s next for Nexira
Nexira debuted Oli-Ola, a natural olive extract with a guaranteed level of three percent hydroxytyrosol, at Engredea this past March. The potent polyphenols are extracted from the organic olives produced by ancient olive trees in the Southern Mediterranean region.
Oli-Ola has also won an approved cardiovascular health claim from EFSA—the first for olive polyphenols. The EFSA panel concluded “that a cause and effect relationship has been established between the consumption of olive oil polyphenols (standardized by the content of hydroxytyrosol and its derivatives) and protection of LDL particles from oxidative damage."
Also new at Engredea this year was Fibergum Crystal Pure, a new range of highly purified acacia gum with enhanced properties for the fiber enrichment of clear beverages and functional foods. Also made from 100 percent natural acacia gum, Fibergum Crystal is tasteless, odorless, highly soluble at room temperature, and offers all the health benefits of acacia gum.
NEXIRA by the numbers
Nexira generates over €83M of revenue, 90 percent of which is from exports (the group received France’s top exporter award in 2007) and is targeting €120M of revenue by 2015.
- 2011 revenue: 83 M€
- 220 employees
- 10 subsidiaries and offices
- 8 production facilities
- 50 distributing agents
- 80 countries represented
- business operations on 5 continents