The yeast specialist, which is part of the AB Ingredients group, announced the construction of the new plant in 2007. Last year, as it neared completion, it opened a new food application centre and sales office in Shanghai.
The Harbin site has the capacity to produce over 15,000 tonnes of yeast extracts a year, for use by the food and fermentation industries. It is the result of a US$50m investment.
Stephen Catling, CEO of Ohly-owner ABF Ingredients, called the plant “the logical expansion to our Ohly Yeast Specialties business which gives us a global manufacturing footprint to complement our existing plants in Europe and the USA”.
The company is now said to have “global supply chain capability”.
The yeast extract market has been growing in recent years, partly due to preferential use of yeast over other taste enhancers like monosodium glutamate and hydrolysed vegetable protein. Consultancy Leatherhead International puts yeast market growth at between 3 and 4 per cent per annum.
Ohly CEO Robert Rouwenhorst said Asia in particular has seen growing demand. In recent years Asian tastes have changed, as busier lifestyles and higher incomes have prompted demand for Western style convenience foods, including ready meals and snacks. Yeast extracts are used as taste enhancers for such savoury products, and are increasing in popularity because of their natural origin.
It is not just in yeast extracts that Asia is offering new opportunities, however; other ingredient categories have seen burgeoning demand from the region, too.
Other businesses within the AB Ingredients fold that have received investment for Chinese set ups are bakery yeast firm AB Mauri, which has an expanded site next to Ohly’s in Harbin, and British Sugar and AB Agri in the Hailongjiang province in North Eastern China.