Avoca: A Value-Added Custom Extractor
Avoca, a division of the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, Merry Hill, NC, has been in operation since 1961, primarily involved in the area of botanical extraction. Although its original purpose was to manufacture materials for the company’s internal needs, Avoca has pursued a variety of missions since its inception. Today Avoca is the largest supplier of sclareolide, a compound extracted from clary sage, which is used in the fragrance industry. Using its expertise in botanical extraction, Avocastarted to test the waters of the nutraceuticals industry approximately seven years ago. According to Dr. David Peele, director of the Avoca division, playing a role in the dietary supplements area was a natural progression. “We have extensive experience in the agronomy of growing plants as well as the extraction, isolation and purification of active compounds,” he said. “Based upon this, Avoca’s capabilities can satisfy companies involved in dietary supplements, functional foods and pharmaceuticals.”
Avoca’s initial involvement in the dietary supplements industry occurred approximately six years ago. “During the boom period for dietary supplements we did some toll processing but eventually we decided that it would leverage our expertise and abilities to extend our extraction business into the dietary supplements industry,” Dr. Peele said. “Since that time we have installed a Crown Model 4 continuous extractor and have upgraded our chemical processing plant to Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) standards.” With its extraction capabilities, Avoca has the ability to produce batches as small as a ton per day or batches as large as 10 tons per day. Additionally, the company’s chemical facility enables Avoca to take extracts and further purify the material as opposed to doing a one-pass extraction.
Another area in which Avoca is gaining strength is new product development. “Not only are we trying to be a toll processor but we are also interested in introducing new products to the nutraceuticals industry,” said Dr. Peele. “We have several new products in various stages of development, any one of which could become ‘the next great American nutraceutical.’” Avoca’s product portfolio over the years has consisted of several products including basil oil, sage oil, clary sage, rhamnose, kava, echinacea, saw palmetto, zeaxanthin, black cohosh, astaxanthin, lutein and glucosamine.
In terms of what lies ahead for the company, Dr. Peele said Avoca needs to gain more visibility. “We are new to the dietary supplement industry, but we feel that our 40 years of experience in the fragrance industry made it possible for the crossover into this market,” he said. “The nutraceuticals industry is beginning to turn the corner and I believe as it comes back around people are going to ask for higher quality, more consistency, standardization and quality control. I feel that leaves us in a very good position to be able to satisfy this industry’s needs.”—R.M.
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company
P.O. Box 129
Merry Hill, NC 27957