Lexington Pharmaceutical is seeking global manufacturing partners for its innovative sucralose process, which it claims is greener than methods used by leading competitors.
The process applies different solvents than those traditionally used, which carry less need for recycling or the disposal of impurities, according to the company.
"In our opinion it is an improved and 'greener' method to produce sucralose," Ted Gelov, founder and CEO, told FoodNavigator-USA.com.
"If food and beverage manufacturers are really serious about environmental responsibility, then in our opinion, our process would be a preferred method."
Companies are increasingly shaking up their act in regards to corporate responsibility as ethical consumerism becomes an ever important trend.
Lexington is drawing attention to an independent review of its process by Todd Lowary, professor at the University of Alberta, who said: "Lexington's procedure represents a significant improvement over any process that I have reviewed in the Tate & Lyle patent portfolio, not only in terms of cost, but also toxicity."
The sucralose is expected to be introduced in the table top sweetener Nevella, produced by Heartland Sweeteners, which is also owned by Gelov.
Additionally, it will become available for use as an ingredient in food and beverage products.
Lexington has only recently filed for a patent for the process but is confident it will be issued. However, at this stage it said the information is confidential. Consequently, there were no details on the processing method available from either the company or the patenting office.
Although the process has been reviewed by only a small number of people, such as Lowary, the company said it has received confirmation on the value of its innovation from a leading industry expert.
Tate & Lyle response
Tate & Lyle, well known for its sucralose operations, particularly table top brand Splenda, raised doubts on whether a patent would be granted to Lexington.
Rowan Adams, spokesperson for Tate & Lyle, said: "Filing a patent is a simple and inexpensive step, which involves no consideration by the patent office of the true novelty of the invention."
He explained that only between 25 and 35 percent of patent applications are granted.
Tate & Lyle has two sucralose plants and have worked on producing high quality sucralose whilst also adhering to quality, safety and purity standards and developing new ways to cut carbon emissions.
Adams said: "Tate & Lyle is currently building biomasss boilers in both the US and UK, which will have a significant cost and environmental benefits, and which will reduce our carbon footprint."
Gelov responded saying: "The market will ultimately judge and we look forward to fair competition."
Patents and generics
Heartland Sweeteners, a manufacturer of table top sweeteners and owned by Gelov, is currently involved in a court action with Tate & Lyle over accusations of patent infringement for sucralose manufacturing technology. The case was filed against 18 different companies.
However, this case is understood to relate to a different process than the aforementioned, and Gelov stressed Heartland is only affiliated with Lexington through common ownership.
Whether there could be any conflicts between the new process and Tate & Lyle's intellectual properties cannot be ascertained because the details have not yet been revealed.
Last month, a new sucralose supplier came on the market - Dublin and Geneva-based Fusion Nutraceuticals in partnership with Indian pharmaceutical company Alkem.
Its process was based on expired Tate & Lyle patents, highlighting the issue of generics and the new competition entering the market.
However, Tate & Lyle has said such processes are only first generation methods, while it is now working on third generation techniques.