USA – Florida Food Products has acquired the majority stake in Comax Manufacturing Corp. In an effort to expand its share of the US food ingredient market. 

Natural flavors provider, Comax manufacturing was founded by Calabretta family more than 40 years ago and the family is expected to keep an equity stake in the combined business.  

With the acquisition, Comax will become part of FFP’s taste division and continue to operate its manufacturing plant in Melville, New York, and oversee R&D at its Marlton, New Jersey, facility. 

FFP produces naturally sourced vegetable, tea, botanical, and coffee extracts for applications in beverages, processed and cured meat, and plant-based meat alternatives. 

The company said that Comax’s natural flavors will help make it a “go-to source” for clean label ingredients. 

Comax has nearly 1,000 SKUs formulated to replace synthetic flavors and ingredients designed to improve texture and extend shelf life.  

The company has been busy expanding its global footprint in recent years, opening an Innovation Center and Flavor Manufacturing Facility in China in 2018, as well as its 3,600-square-foot R&D facility in New Jersey. 

“We are excited to partner with the FFP, Ardian, and MidOcean teams, who share our belief that natural ingredients provide consumers with healthier options while offering our customers high-quality alternatives to traditional, synthetic ingredients,” Comax CEO Peter Calabretta Jr. said in a statement.  

“This partnership gives Comax access to new technologies, ingredients, and distribution that will accelerate the existing Comax business and provide more solutions and capabilities for our valued customers.” 

The acquisition demonstrates FFP’s intent at grabbing a leading share of the natural ingredients space, as consumers’ embrace of clean labels grows and proves attractive to investors eager to cash in. 

The burgeoning trend toward clean label which FFP is seeking to tap into has driven several M&A deals over the past year, including Kerry’s $1 billion purchase of preservatives specialist Niacet. 

 Ingredion also recently acquired texture and stabilization provider KaTech in April while  Kemin expanded its portfolio with the purchase of Proteus, a protein ingredients provider. 

Comax’s acquisition also demonstrates the growing role of private equity in driving consolidation within the ingredients space. 

In September, private investment firm Ardian acquired a majority stake in FFP from MidOcean Partners in a deal valued at US$1 billion.  

MidOcean had bought FFP from Kainos Capital in 2018 from its founder Brown family for an undisclosed amount. 

When Ardian acquired FFP, one of its main goals was to increase investment in R&D and ramp up strategic acquisitions. 

 The purchase of Comax likely represents the first of many deals to roll out in the coming years, as FFP aims to become what CEO Jim Holdrieth described as “the industry’s largest independent provider of natural ingredients.”   

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