Flavor technology firm Senomyx is developing a sweetness enhancer that aims to reduce the levels of sucralose in food and beverage applications, providing significant cost benefits to manufacturers.
The new sweet enhancer platform, S2383, claims to be able to reduce the sweetener by 75 percent.
Senomyx, which announced the new technology as part of its second quarter results today, said this was optimized particularly for sucralose reduction, and that it could allow food and beverage makers to improve the taste characteristics of their products and reduce their costs of goods.
Tate & Lyle, the UK firm that currently holds the global monopoly for sucralose production, said it was unable to comment on Senomyx's specific technology at this stage.
"These kind of initiatives can take a long time to develop and bring to market as there are often regulatory and safety hurdles to overcome before full-scale consumer testing can start or an economic proposition for customers be developed," it wrote in an e-mail to FoodNavigator-USA.com.
"It is important not to underestimate the time and cost involved in securing regulatory approval for new food additives of this type, so whilst we watch with interest, we would expect that it will be some considerable time before any significant product of the type described in the comments made today is available in the market."
Senomyx would not comment on Tate & Lyle, but told FoodNavigator-USA.com that it is "not particularly targeting sucralose - we're trying to find enhancers of multiple types of sweeteners, it just happens that the first one we've found is for sucralose".
Other sweet enhancers in the company's R&D pipeline include enhancers of sucrose and fructose, but these are not in the same development stage as the sucralose enhancer.
According to Senomyx president and chief executive officer Kent Snyder, taste tests using S2383 have shown that three quarters of the sucralose used in certain applications can be pulled out, while maintaining the same sweet taste.
"The magnitude of sweetness enhancement achieved with S2383 is significantly higher than that observed with previous compounds. We feel this is a major scientific accomplishment for Senomyx," said Snyder.
Senomyx has moved S2383 into the 'development phase', which involves the start of activities to support regulatory filings and product application work.
The company said it is still too early to be able to provide estimations on potential cost savings. However, it added that based on experience with its savory flavor ingredients, it expects cost savings for food and drink manufacturers could be "significant".
Senomyx's savory ingredients, which are designed to reduce or replace monosodium glutamate (MSG) and enhance the savory flavor of food, last month received a positive review by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), supplementing their US generally recognized as safe (GRAS) status.
The firm says the ingredients saw their first commercial appearance in June, when food giant Nestle introduced a product in the bouillon category that contains one of the ingredients. The product was launched in a Pacific Rim country, said Senomyx.
The company, which owns, or is the exclusive licensee, of 91 issued patents, and has 369 further patent applications pending in countries around the world, was founded in 1998 but became publicly listed in 2004. In the past three years it has not achieved profitability, which it says is "in line with expectations".
Its second quarter results announced today were no exception: the firm announced a loss of $5.8m in the quarter and $12.4m in the half year to date.
The firm's chief financial officer John Pyhonen told FoodNavigator-USA.com that although it does not expect to be profitable in 2007, it does expect the figures from the first shipment and sales of its savory flavor ingredients to come in during its third quarter.