Its new facility in Zhenjiang City, in Jiangsu province, will manufacture vanillin for the group’s aroma division and is expected to boost its production capacity by 40%.
With demand for vanillin in Asia outpacing worldwide requirements, the Zhenjiang plant will take some pressure off distribution there once it opens at the end of 2014.
Vincent Lajotte, global business director for Solvay Aroma Performance, attributes this rise vanillin to changing Asian tastes.
“Vanillin is the most widely used aroma ingredient worldwide. However, one region where it was not widely consumed is Asia due to local Asian food habits,” he said.
“Today the taste of Western food is considered more and more appealing to Asian consumers, and since vanillin is very widely used the market share for this highly appreciated aroma ingredient is rising.”
Eighty per cent of vanillin is used in the food and beverage segments, particularly in bakery and confectionery. The remaining 20% is for personal care and household products, such as perfumery and detergents. The main growing markets are China and India, said Lajotte.
Solvay is the world’s biggest producer of vanillin, with the new Chinese operation augmenting its facilities in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Saint-Fons in France.
Now with a third plant, the company hopes to establish a global industrial vanillin platform and control the entire production chain from making its raw material, catechol, to producing end-product vanillin.
Solvay’s position in Asia was recently recently strengthened by its acquisition of Rhodia, which has had a presence in both China and Korea of over thirty years.
It also has facilities in Japan and Thailand and a pan-Asian commercial pool, as well as industrial assets and innovation centres across the region.
“The addition of this manufacturing facility in China positions Solvay for our worldwide customers, and especially those in the highly regulated food industry,” said Dominique Rage, president of Solvay Aroma Performance.
The company will use expertise is found locally in Zhenjiang where we it has already been manufacturing upstream products and intermediates to enter the vanillin production value chain. It will also technical support from personnel at its R&D centre in Shanghai.
“The new facility will allow us to manufacture vanillin through a fully back integrated production process from producing the raw material catechol right through to our final flagship brands which ensures full traceability for food safety and therefore food-safe vanillin,” added Lajotte.