Brazil orange juice heavyweight Citrosuco launches food ingredients unit

By Ana Mano

SAO PAULO, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Brazilian orange juice maker Citrosuco has created a company to supply food ingredients, an executive said on Wednesday, capitalizing on abundant raw material supplies while tapping into a lucrative market niche.

Evera, as the venture is called, will process orange parts like husks, peels, leaves, flowers and seeds to produce fibers and oils that can be mixed into food and beverages, Chief Business Officer John Lin said in an interview. That market is worth up to $12 billion per year.

The initiative reflects Citrosuco's drive to balance large-volume businesses that have lower margins and a presence in market segments with smaller volumes but higher prices and margins.

It also gives Brazil, a big raw commodities exporter, a new supplier in the food ingredients space where there are only a few competitors, Lin said. "We were in this market as Citrosuco... Now we are creating a new unit to increase focus and be able to grow."

Initially, Evera's production will be done in the state of Sao Paulo, where Citrosuco owns orange farms and three processing plants.

One of the largest orange juice producers in the world, Citrosuco also operates a facility in the United States and accounts for about 20% of the global supply.

Brazil produces some 13 million tonnes of oranges per year using only half of the fruit to make juice, Evera said. By extracting fibers and oils from the other half, the company can sell value-added products.

Before Evera, Citrosuco's non-juice orange byproduct was being used as a low-value cattle feed ingredient.

Evera's food ingredient portfolio boasts 18 products for mixing into plant-based foods, ketchup, mayonnaise, and chocolate syrup, among others.

Lin said priority markets for Evera include the United States and England, France, and Germany, where demand for such natural ingredients is picking up. (Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)