Header image

Organic growth: Odd Erik Hansen, CEO of Oterra

Food colouring may not seem like much of a high-stakes, fast-growth opportunity, but as Odd Erik Hansen—CEO of one of the world’s leading providers of natural colouring for foods, Oterra—explains to Acuris Capital Intelligence, it’s all perfectly natural.

Interview by Dayna Fields

Q: In its first year as a standalone company, what is the growth outlook for Oterra?

With new strength and financial backing (from private equity firm EQT IX) as well as growth through acquisitions—marked by our first acquisition of Spain-based SECNA Natural Ingredients in April and (recently) announced discussions to acquire France-based Diana Food—we are now the world’s leading provider of natural colouring for foods. We see strong demand from consumers for natural products and therefore see it from food and beverage manufacturers, and it is an exciting place to be. 

Q: What is the long-term exit potential for Oterra? 

We came out of a carve-out in April of this year. In the next three or four years, we hope to double in size. It’s ambitious but doable—and our first two acquisitions are helping us to take those steps. 

I think the company will be big enough for an IPO, but an industrial buyer could also be logical because there is a lot of consolidation in the food ingredient manufacturer space. Organically, we see strong consumer interest in natural products and for us that is great news. 

Q: Regarding acquisitions, which global regions are attractive for expansion? 

Our colour pigments come from all around the world, so we source natural raw materials from regions like Africa, Latin America, India, Europe, China—we source from everywhere. Our biggest customers are global food and beverage companies, so serving them means being global. To that extent, we want to strengthen our value chain participation so acquisitions could be anywhere with the right raw material. We have facilities around the world and each has its own role and place in our network. 

Q: How is Oterra different from its competition? 

Consumer demand is high for natural ingredients, possibly at an all-time high. Food manufacturers want a consistent supply and are looking for an anchor point. We are distinct, with a full pallet of natural colours and application expertise for all categories. We have a global footprint for logistics and production, and we are dedicated to innovating new formulations, colours and pigments to continue to build. 

A bit of background: Headquartered in Hørsholm, Denmark, Oterra develops and manufactures natural colouring ingredients, serving over 1,600 customers in the food and beverages industry. Odd Erik Hansen was previously the CEO of Danish-based biotechnology company Glycom.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.