The San Diego-based company said it has developed proprietary technology to produce compounds extracted from plants, called terpenes, at a fraction of the cost using yeast fermentation in a process similar to making beer or wine.
Initially it has focused on two products. They are nootkatone - a grapefruit flavour that can be extracted from grapefruit - and valencene, an orange flavour that can be extracted from the peel of the valencene orange. Both are broadly used as citrus flavor ingredients.
However, more products are imminent as its years of investment in biotechnology comes to fruition at a time when food and beverage manufacturers seek “green” and stable supplies.
Carolyn Fritz, Allylix CEO, told FoodNavigatorUSA.com: “We have in the pipeline six more flavours and fragrances that we will have in the market place by 2012.
“Unfortunately we have not yet disclosed what those ingredients are.”
She added: “Yeast based fermentation has been around for a long time. It is basically bakers’ yeast that we use. What is different about our technology is that we can produce terpenes specifically.”
Nootkatone can cost around $2,000 a pound and valencene $600 a pound.
Fritz said that long-term they anticipate producing them for a fifth or a tenth of the cost of terpenes extracted from plants
This is partly due to the production process enabling Allylix to produce highly pure terpenes in large quantities in fermentors, without being subject to variations in crop yield and commodity swings.
The products come with a natural label as Allylix said its terpenes are identical to the terpenes produced by plants and extracted for use.
The company is also pitching its products against synthetic alternatives, claiming its fermentation process offers “a significant cost advantage over both extracted and synthesized nootkatone”.
But Allylix faces much more direct competition.
Last summer, Netherlands-based biotechnology company Isobionics said it had developed a fermentation process for the commercial production of its aroma substance Valencene Pure, a natural ingredient for soft drinks, among other applications.
Isobionics claimed at the time to be “the first company in the world that has succeeded in bringing this natural ingredient to market”.
However, biotechnology is tipped to play an increasing role in the development of new products in the flavor industry, according to Bridget McMurtrie, an industry analyst at Freedonia.
And she told FoodNavigatorUSA.com that if Allylix can achieve its lower prices, “interest in these engineered products will likely be great”.
Allylix said biotechnology is the key to developing new products for the flavor and fragrance industry that are “natural, cost effective, and green, in the sense that they don’t create the burden on the planet that previous methods required”.