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February 17: Mixed Outlook, But No Lack of Optimism at Informex
9:46 AM MST | February 18, 2010 | By ALEX SCOTT
Senior executives of specialty and fine chemicals manufacturers meeting in San Francisco for this week’s Informex expo, have a mixed outlook when it comes to business opportunities for the year ahead.
Steven Munk, president and CEO of privately owned Ash Stevens (Detroit, MI), a fine chemicals contract manufacturer for pharmaceutical firms, is “bullish” about the year ahead. Munk says 2009 was a good year with sales of about $20.5 million, up from sales in 2008 of about $13.5 million. The company is currently seeking to expand and is evaluating options including the purchase of an existing site, or construction of a new facility that would provide the company with large scale manufacturing of pharma ingredients.
BioVectra (Charlottetown, PE), a pharma fine chemicals and biologic drugs manufacturer says it is experiencing particularly strong demand, especially for the manufacture of biologic materials. The company plans to install two 30 liter fermentation reactors, one 100 liter reactor and one 1,000 liter reactor, says Desiree Quizon-Colquitt, manager/business development and sourcing for BioVectra. Sales in the fermentation field are growing at above 20%/year, she says.
Meanwhile, Dottikon (Aargau, Switzerland), a fine chemicals manufacturer focused on the niche area of handling hazardous chemicals says it has been struggling in the market and that it intends to reduce operating shifts at some of its plants from the beginning of March. “This is to absorb short term fluctuations in capacity utilization,” Dottikon says. The company says it expects sales to fall for the business year 2009-2010 compared with the year earlier.
“Perhaps by operating in a niche within a niche Dottikon has become too specialized and doesn’t have enough market opportunity,” says an executive from the fine chemicals industry who chose not to be named.
A slew of companies announced technology developments at the event’s Technology Showcases: BASF announced that it has stepped up its spray drying service offering for processing active pharma ingredients (API) via a cooperation agreement with GEA Nitro (Soborg, Denmark), a manufacturer of spray dryers. “With this cooperation we add to our portfolio the ability to offer a cGMP facility,” says Folker Ruchatz, director/global business management custom synthesis for BASF.
Also during the Technology showcases DSM highlighted its growing ability to undertake biocatalytic processing, including one certain application where the company has been able to replace a seven step synthetic chemistry process with a two-step process featuring an enzyme step followed by a step featuring copper catalysis. “It only took us a few weeks to go from the laboratory to full scale,” says David Ager, a senior chemist within DSM Research.
Biotech start-up Myriant Technologies (Quincy, MA), which is developing bioprocesses for building block chemicals including succinic acid, says it is also optimistic about the firm’s progress. The company says it is on track with plans to set up a demonstration facility for its biosuccinic acid process following a $50 million funding deal from the Department of Energy.
Jennifer Jessup, brand director/United Business Media, the event organizer, says exhibitor numbers and audience numbers are on track to match those of the past year despite the tough trading conditions of 2009. A feature of this event is that companies have been later in deciding whether to participate, Jessup adds.
VIDEO: CW'S Alex Scott interviews Informex's Jennifer Jessup on registration figures.