Beverage makers have become increasingly interested in finding ways to reduce the quantities of nutritive sweeteners in their products without affecting taste, in an effort to tap into consumer demand for drinks with healthier nutrition profiles. And Senomyx has been developing flavor ingredients that could help them achieve this.
Coca-Cola and Senomyx have been working together since 2002 on projects related to the discovery, development and commercialization of new flavor ingredients resulting from Senomyx’s sweet flavor technology. The agreement was most recently extended in April 2008.
Senomyx CEO Kent Snyder said: "We appreciate the commitment that Coca-Cola has shown to our collaboration during the past eight years and we are gratified by their continuing interest in our sweet taste technology.”
Senomyx said the two companies are working toward a new formal agreement to be finalized within 60 days.
Sugar reduction progress
The companies have been tight-lipped about the details of the agreement. But in October 2008, Senomyx said it had received a payment from Coca-Cola related to a milestone discovery of a “promising new flavor ingredient” to reduce sugar without compromising taste. Coca-Cola would not add any further comment.
In October last year, Senomyx said it had received regulatory approval for the use of a sucrose enhancer, S6973, in foods and beverages, which it claims can be used to reduce the amount of sugar in specific drinks such as instant coffee and tea by 50 percent, while maintaining the flavor of sugar.
The GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status for S6973 covers its use in baked goods, cereals, gum, condiments and relishes, confectionery, frostings, dairy, fruit ices, puddings, candy, jams, and sauces. However, it does not cover most beverages, although Senomyx said at the time that it was still evaluating sucrose enhancers that could be useful for drinks, as they have “specific requirements due to packaging and storage conditions utilized by the beverage industry.”
The company’s development of such ingredients is a result of years of research into sweet taste receptors in the mouth. Senomyx says S6973 works by making these receptors more efficient, thereby giving the impression of greater sweetness without increasing sweetener quantity.