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Iberchem South Africa

Spain’s Iberchem Group creates Iberchem South Africa

Spain’s Iberchem Group is expanding its presence on the South African foodbev market with the creation of Iberchem South Africa, taking full ownership of Versachem after buying a majority 70% share of the Pretoria-based food flavour-colours business just over two years ago.

FOODStuff SA interviewed the Iberchem South Africa’s new CEO, Quentin Questiaux (below), to put the deal into context and outline their future plans.

FSSA: Please explain the nub of the new deal – the creation of Iberchem South Africa??

QQ: Iberchem now wholly owns the business, bringing together the businesses and products of Iberchem (fragrances), Scentium (flavours) and Versachem (colourants and seasonings) under the name of Iberchem South Africa.

All three divisions will be accommodated in Versachem’s current offices in Pretoria, north of Johannesburg, until suitable new premises are secured to cater for growth of the business.

You’re newly appointed to this position… what is your background, Quentin?

I’ve been on the business and sales side of the South African flavour industry for many years, ten of them with Givaudan, and latterly as its Nigeria country manager for five years until this opportunity arose. So, I have a good track record and keen understanding of pan-African trends and dynamics.

How would you describe Iberchem South Africa’s offer to your key foodbev markets?

We’re a mid-size flavour/colours/fragrance house, with a customer profile of both large and small vendors and manufacturers, and with an extensive footprint in savoury seasonings and dustings, as well as in non-alcoholic beverages.

Iberchem’s move into South Africa in a direct way is to take advantage of opportunities and growth, obviously, but also to be as close as possible to our clients. Proximity is a key element in our service offer, which means they benefit from more agility when developing their products, from faster delivery times and keen pricing.

What’s been keeping you particularly busy since you came onboard?

I’ve been concentrating on several projects, including upgrading and expanding our lab facilities, formalising our comprehensive flavour library, and finding new premises.

We’re also on a recruitment drive to boost our technical skills within our 65-odd staff contingent – we’re keen to add jobs to the economy, and to strenghten our triple BEE programme. Skills and training are an imperative – people matter!

You’ve entered a demanding job at the worst possible time – how has lockdown been for Iberchem SA?

Luckily, we’re in sectors that are always in demand. But it’s tough out there; it’s tough for everyone. Still, the sales of the Iberchem Group have grown when compared to the same period of last year.

We’ve observed the obvious big change in consumer purchasing power, so we’ve seen many clients looking to re-develop recipes for affordability, and to substitute with cheaper, non-imported alternatives.

We’ve been woken up to the realisation that tomorrow is not guaranteed to look like today. So, we we’re working to be nimble; to actively build a sound and sustainable value chain; and we recognise that developing a culture of innovation is key to how we can better serve customers. We cannot waste this disaster.

FOODStuff SA gets many requests for help and advice from startups who don’t really know where to turn when it comes to product development or securing samples for trials. Does Iberchem SA have time to help these types of players?

Very definitely. Startups are very important – every company started out at a point in time. This is where our flavour library is so useful, and we can help with recipes, with sensory, NPD and safety advice and so on.

Furthermore, we’re working on expanding our distribution to support and develop local agents and entrepreneurs, even on the micro level. There’s a vast informal sector, that’s likely to expand further with the routing of formal jobs, and we intend tapping into it more.

Thank you, Quentin. FOODStuff SA wishes you all the best in your new job and to the fortunes of Iberchem SA!

Iberchem SA: Email: [email protected]; Website:; Direct: +27 12 653 4447 ext 127