A photo of a bowl of red dye used in food coloring.
A red dye extracted from female cactus-dwelling insects. | Courtesy of DDW.

Louisville food coloring company D.D. Williamson has acquired a part of DuPont’s Nutrition & Biosciences division, including two manufacturing plants in Europe and South America.

“The acquisition will significantly increase our revenues, particularly in Europe, and position us for considerable growth,” CEO Ted Nixon told Insider via email.

DDW is acquiring the DuPont Natural Colors business, which includes manufacturing operations in England and in Chile. The facilities employ a combined 73 people, bringing DDW’s total headcount to just above 300.

The company said the acquisition in Burton-on-Trent, England, adds two unique products to its portfolio and expands its European customer base. DDW already has plants in Manchester and Bristol, England; and Cork, Ireland. Outside of Europe, it also has facilities in Manaus, Brazil; Shanghai; Johor Bahru, Malaysia; Matsapha, Swaziland; and Port Washington, Wis.

A global map showing DDW locations.
Screenshot courtesy of DDW

DDW said the natural colors manufacturing operation in Santiago will allow the company to reach further into South America. “Chiles’ favorable trade agreements will significantly expand our global reach,” the company told Insider.  It also said the acquisition “adds technical and manufacturing capabilities in several core natural colors.”

DDW, based at 1901 Payne St., makes food coloring for products including beverages, candy and pet food. A Louisville laboratory handles process innovation, research and development for the global operations. Since moving to its location in 2011, employment in Louisville has doubled, the company said, and it expects the acquisition likely will fuel further growth in Kentucky.

The company focuses on natural colors, which it creates from agricultural, biological or mineral sources. For example, DDW uses water to extract red coloring from purple corn, and it creates a brown coloring from cooking apples, tomatoes, onions and other foods. The extracts are used as coloring in consumer products such as cookies, breads and soups.

A portrait of Ted Nixon.
Ted Nixon

Nixon has said that food coloring can mean the difference between a product’s success or failure.

“If food doesn’t taste good, people might not try it again. If food doesn’t look good, they may not try it at all,” he said in a DDW video.

The global food colors market is expected to grow an annual 5.7% through 2023, at which point it will exceed $5 billion, according to Research and Markets.

“Factors such as the growing demand for natural food colors have significantly fueled the market for food colors due to the increasing consumer awareness for clean-label products and additional health benefits of certain natural food colors,” the market research company said.

DDW, which is privately held, said its agreement with DuPont prohibited it from disclosing the purchase price.

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Boris Ladwig
Boris Ladwig is a reporter with more than 20 years of experience and has won awards from multiple journalism organizations in Indiana and Kentucky for feature series, news, First Amendment/community affairs, nondeadline news, criminal justice, business and investigative reporting. As part of The (Columbus, Indiana) Republic’s staff, he also won the Kent Cooper award, the top honor given by the Associated Press Managing Editors for the best overall news writing in the state. A graduate of Indiana State University, he is a soccer aficionado (Borussia Dortmund and 1. FC Köln), singer and travel enthusiast who has visited countries on five continents. He speaks fluent German, rudimentary French and bits of Spanish, Italian, Khmer and Mandarin.