The two companies have entered into an exclusive 60-day negotiation period, which Senomyx said would deal with commercial and financial terms for the discovery, development and commercialization of new artificial and natural sweetness enhancers, and natural high-intensity sweeteners for soft drinks. The company added that under the letter agreement, it would receive a non-refundable $7.5m payment from PepsiCo, which would be applied to an upfront license fee if Senomyx and PepsiCo enter into a final definitive agreement.
CEO at Senomyx Kent Snyder said: "Senomyx shares PepsiCo's commitment to providing consumers with healthier, great-tasting products. We are looking forward to finalizing our agreement and using our unique technology to help PepsiCo expand its product portfolio. We believe that our potential new collaboration would include a commercialization timeframe and other terms that are beneficial for both companies."
No one from PepsiCo responded to a request for comment prior to publication.
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.
Senomyx has already had a similar collaborative deal with The Coca-Cola Company for the past eight years for the discovery, development and commercialization of new flavor ingredients resulting from its sweet taste technology.
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 many food applications, but it does not cover most beverages. However, 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.