East Anglian flavourings company gets a taste for business success in the US

Melanie Evans (creative director) and Steve Pearce (CEO) at Omega Ingredients PIC: Paul Tibbs

Melanie Evans (creative director) and Steve Pearce (CEO) at Omega Ingredients PIC: Paul Tibbs - Credit: Archant

From a base in Great Blakenham near Ipswich, natural flavour and fragrance solutions company Omega Ingredients exports to a number of countries around the world.

Destinations where its products can be found include Australia, Singapore, India and South America.

The EADT/EDP Future 50 firm has also grown its business in the US and over the past five years has increasingly devoted more resources to its operation Stateside.

Much of this business development has been conducted by company founder and CEO Steve Pearce, who in recent times bases himself at a company-owned apartment/office in Philadelphia when he visits the country.

Omega’s US operation see products created at its specialist facilities in Great Blakenham before they are shipped to a warehouse in New Jersey from where customers are able to collect or the consignment is freight forwarded.

The goods Omega sends across the Atlantic are the same as it produces for UK customers – natural ingredients and flavours for food and drink ranging from apricot and bacon to vanilla and watermelon flavours.

And what Steve has found is that his products compare favourably with other suppliers serving the US.

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“People tend to think that the US market is ahead of the UK but in this case it isn’t,” he said.

“In the US, the flavourings market tends to be high volume, low standard - they are operating at a cheaper and less sophisticated level.”

Steve added: “We have surprised our customers with the high quality of our natural flavours – but that does present us with a challenge.

“Natural flavourings tend to be more expensive [than artificial flavourings], so we are trying to sell a higher value product – some of our customers get it but others are more focussed on the price and want a cheaper product.”

Steve says one of the reasons the natural flavourings sector is more advanced in the UK is because the sugar tax has forced drink manufacturers to look to healthier alternatives.

With no such nationwide levy in the US, sugary, artificial flavourings remain widespread across the market.

“Trend-wise we are taking the trends to them,” added Steve.