Sensient Colors Latin America

Year after year, Sensient Technologies continues to grow as a leading global manufacturer and marketer of colors, flavors and fragrances. The company is headquartered in Milwaukee but maintains operating divisions throughout the world that bring strength to the company’s overall portfolio.

Sensient’s Latin American Colors presence began 50 years ago when it opened its plant in Lerma, Mexico, where it also operates a customer service lab and commercial office. Since then, Sensient Colors has expanded its market reach in the region with a warehouse in Monterey, Mexico; a commercial office, customer service lab and manufacturing facility in Buenos Aires; a commercial office and customer service lab in San Jose, Costa Rica; a commercial office and customer service lab in Bogota, Columbia; and a commercial office in Lima, Peru. The Latin America division will soon add to this growing family with a second plant in Lerma.

“We will soon be launching a naturals plant in Lerma,” General Manager Ricardo Sanchez says. “We are currently producing mostly artificial colors but we will be adding a major capability in naturals in 2014. It will be a new building on our existing site but is completely separated.”

Market Shift

Sanchez says the new plant is in direct response to the growing demand for more natural products. The products that Sensient manufactures are added to consumer goods such as food and beverages, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, inkjet and specialty inks and industrials. The past couple of years have seen an expansive shift in consumer thinking.  Sanchez explains that all-natural products have become expected in the market.

“The world is changing and natural products are increasing in their weight in the market and we need to stay in front of this trend,” Sanchez says. “We are developing products where we will get raw material locally in Mexico and make the operation more efficient.”

The new plant will be the fourth dedicated natural products-making facility added to the color group. Sensient currently operates natural plants in the United States, Italy and Germany. Sanchez explains that rather than duplicating products already made in those plants, the new Mexico facility will allow Sensient to expand its line of all-natural products and usher it into new markets and business.

“We will be able to create new specialties here,” Sanchez explains. “It will be different than the other sites. This will allow us to create new products, not ones already produced in sister companies. It will enhance our global portfolio. We are working on developing new products. Some are being patented and will be produced at this facility. “

Continuous Improvement

As the Latin America division prepares to launch this new facility, it continues to invest in its current operation. Even though the Lerma plant is half-a-century old, Sanchez says it is being maintained and upgraded daily, keeping it relevant and in like-new condition. In addition to new equipment, Sensient continues to update the infrastructure itself, including ceilings, walls, floors, lights and rapid closing doors to separate different components of the facility.

Quality control is another continuous investment for the company. Sensient’s Latin American-produced products are exported throughout the world and the global regulatory environment has challenged manufacturers to meet increasingly restrictive guidelines. Sensient’s ability to adapt to and often exceed regulations is one of the key factors to its success.

“In our QSR we are being more restrictive on the parameters for our raw materials and for our processed and finished goods,” Sanchez stresses. “We’ve had lots of analysis in the last 18 months on our products to make sure we are shipping customers the best quality in the market. There’s no single box of product leaving the premises that hasn’t passed through all our tests.”

Last year, for instance, Mexico instituted a new rule for food additives. Sensient quickly met with the regulatory authority to review its products and be put on the approved list, ensuring customers that Sensient’s products are risk-free.

“Many of our customers are producers of products that are exported into the U.S., and so many of our customers know that we sell FDA-approved products, as well,” Sanchez says. “Our specifications are very tight and even tighter than what some customers need, but we want to avoid any issues in the market with our product because, in the end, we are taking care of the customer’s brand and we want to avoid them any risk because of our product.”