Kerry Group to acquire lactase enzyme business from Chr. Hansen, Novozymes

Subject to regulatory approvals, Kerry will acquire the lactase enzyme business of merging Danish bioscience companies Chr. Hansen and Novozymes. Kerry is set to pay around €150m/$161.7m subject to closing adjustment, with the deal expected to close in the first half of 2024.

The acquisition comprises certain trade and assets of Chr. Hansen’s global lactase enzyme business and 100% of the share capital of Nuocheng Trillion Food (Tianjin) Co., Ltd, a Chinese subsidiary of Novozymes.

Kerry has been building up its expertise in enzymes in recent years, having acquired German biotechnology company c-LEcta GmbH in March 2022 and Mexico-based enzyme manufacturer Enmex in December 2021. Commenting on the agreement with c-Lecta, Kerry chief science and technology officer Dr Albert McQuaid said that “the food and pharmaceutical industries are on the cusp of a new wave of innovation where new developments in biotechnology, synthetic biology and precision fermentation are radically transforming these sectors”.

With this latest acquisition, which includes Chr. Hansen’s NOLA lactase products, Kerry is set to further enhance its biotech solutions capability. The company says that global demand for lactase is being driven by increased awareness of lactose intolerance while consumers are also choosing lactose-free products for lifestyle and health reasons.

Lactases is an enzyme that hydrolyzes lactose to galactose and glucose and is often utilized to produce lactose-free or lactose-reduced dairy products. According to Euromonitor Passport 2022 research, lactose-free dairy is the industry’s fastest-growing segment globally, having experienced a market growth of 10% between 2016 and 2022.