The US-based company announced last week that its neotame sweetener has received approval in the EU and can be sold as of tomorrow (12 January). It is the last sweeter to have been approved under the outgoing regulation 94/35/EC.
Craig Petray, CEO of NutraSweet, told FoodNavigator.com that his vision is to sell neotame for a cheaper price than saccharine. “The more we sell, the more the cost will go down,” he said, adding that cost saving is a big driver in the food and beverage sector.
Saccharine has seen prices as high as US$30 a kilo, but it traditionally comes in at between $4 and $6. Petray is aiming to be on a par within the next two years.
Saccharine is the world’s most widely used sweetener in volume terms. According to Euromonitor International, saccharine volumes were over 30000 tonnes in 2008, out of a total of 77183 tonnes for all intense sweeteners.
But while the taste of saccharine is sickly to many, Petray says neotame has a “really good” taste profile.
NutraSweet is best known for its flagship sweetener aspartame. Neotame is not expected to cannibalise aspartame position, but to provide an alternative to manufacturers that has a different taste profile and price point.
“We’re in the market of blending sweeteners,” said Petray. “The world has migrated to a blend world, there is no such thing as a stand-alone sweetener.”
Petray added that neotame works “very, very well” with stevia-derived sweeteners, not least because it can block lingering off-notes. Stevia sweetners, such as Reb A, have recently been approved in important markets including the US and France, and are expected to be allowed in the rest of the EU in the next two years under the incoming sweetener regulations.
But while neotame-stevia blends have been used in places like Japan for a while, he does not expect the combination to be widely used elsewhere, since stevia-users are often interested in making a natural claim – and neotame is not natural.
Brenntag Group has been assigned the European distribution rights for neotame, with the exception of Spain and Portugal where it will be distributed by Disproquima.