Ajinomoto claims a leading position in the global market for aspartame, which Leatherhead Food International valued at some US$637m last year.
Now the company is starting to talk about a new sweetener called Advantame, hailing it as the first of a new generation of sweeteners to firm plans to introduce over the next few years. This week it made an important step towards Advantame’s debut, applying to the FDA for approval via a food additive petition.
A spokesperson for the company told FoodNavigator-USA.com that the sweetener has to be approved as the molecule does not occur in nature.
Advantame is described as having a “sweet, clean, sugar-like” taste, and is considerably more intense than aspartame. While aspartame is 200 times sweeter than sugar, Advantame is “thousands of times sweeter”, which means less would be used in formulations. The actual sweetness in food products will depend on application.
It is stable when heat treated, which makes more flexible than aspartame – although aspartame is stable in the applications in which it is used, the spokesperson added.
Brendan Naulty, president of Ajinomoto Food Ingredients LLC, said the new sweetener “blends very well with sugar and high fructose corn syrup”.
For the petition Ajimomoto has submitted a full dossier to the FDA, including a raft of safety studies. The publication status of the studies in peer reviewed journals is not clear at the time of running this article.
The US is the first market for which Ajinomoto has sought approvals, but the timescale for a response is uncertain. The spokesperson said the company is hopeful that it will receive approval within two years.
Ajinomoto also plans to seek approval in other markets, including Europe, where a dossier will be submitted under the European sweetener directive.
Aspartame is produced by Ajinomoto in Japan and France, but it is not yet known where the company plans to make Advantame.
The spokesperson also declined to comment on Ajinomoto’s capacity, saying it is too early to forecast on capacity or demand, or how it would fit in as an option for manufacturers alongside “numerous other sweetener choices”.
The choice may well expand further in the coming years, as the company said that Advantame is the first of the new sweeteners it intends to introduce to market, having spent a decade investigating new possibilities.