Abigail Klein Leichman
July 30, 2017

In Peru, Brazil, Guatemala and other Latin American countries, many women are the primary breadwinners and struggle to support their families through subsistence farming.

The Israeli multinational flavor and fragrance producer Frutarom Group has launched a unique collaboration with a local agriculture partner that aims to empower these women by employing them to help meet the growing demand for natural annatto coloring.

“Frutarom Natural Solutions BU offers local women farmers and growers in Latin America a secured income and versatile collaboration to ensure a safe, sustainable and consistent supply of natural annatto coloring,” says Yoni Glickman, president of Frutarom Natural Solutions.

Annatto is an oily seed from the achiote tree. Natural pigments in the seeds are the carotenoids bixin and norbixin. They range in color from yellow to orange tones and remain stable despite the effects of light, heat and oxidation.

Frutarom has a method of extracting the seeds that enables recovery of high-antioxidant vitamin E while significantly minimizing fruit waste, Glickman says.

“Global food and beverage companies are shifting quickly from Yellow 5 and 6 artificial colors to natural annatto in a wide range of food applications,” he explains. “Suppliers of natural colors are in a race to provide sufficient supplies of natural annatto coloring.”

Annatto seeds are highly prized as natural food colorings. Photo courtesy of Frutarom

The collaboration is therefore symbiotic, helping the company to get ahead in this race as well as providing many Latin American women with a more reliable, independent source of income.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Bank, women represent 43 percent of the world’s agricultural labor force.

“Women are playing a big role in changing the food system to create a well-nourished world,” said Danielle Nierenberg, president of FoodTank. “They are taking on larger and more defined roles in food and agriculture, globally.”

‘We want them to grow with us’

The natural colors market is large and growing. According to Global Natural Food Colours Market Analysis and Forecast, 2016–2026, the natural colors market is worth $1.3 billion.

The report reveals that the global natural food colors market represented around 55% of the total food color market in 2015 and is expected to account for more than 60% of the overall market by 2026.

To help fill this demand, Frutarom and its local partner provide the female farmers in their Latin American growing program with training, technical support and business guidance as they learn to raise and harvest high-quality annatto.

The Israeli company says it is committed to buying all the fresh annatto harvested at a fair price.

“We want them to grow with us,” Glickman says.

Two production sites, one in Lima, Peru, and the second in Murcia, Spain, enable a smooth supply chain in fulfilling global demand and ensuring a constant supply of annatto color.

“This ‘win-win’ situation for Frutarom and the farmers fills the gap in supply to meet the growing demand for natural annatto coloring and allows transparency with our customers worldwide,” adds Glickman.

Female farmers in Latin America are growing annatto. Photo: courtesy

Meanwhile, Herzliya-based Frutarom Group has announced its fourth acquisition for 2017: the purchase of 80% of the shares of SDFLC Brasil Indústria E Comércio, a leading Brazilian producer of taste solutions for ice creams and desserts.

Last December, Frutarom purchased 75% of the shares of Grupo Piasa S.A. de C.V. (Piasa Group), Mexico’s top local provider of savory solutions. That was Frutarom’s first acquisition in Mexico and its fifth in the Latin American market. It acquired the Brazilian company Mylner in 2012, Guatemalan company Aroma in 2013, Montana of Peru in 2014 and Brazilian company Nardi in October 2016.

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