29 Oct 2008 --- Okita: "Over the past few years, Ajinomoto Sweeteners Europe has been faced with a level of increased costs that we are no longer able to offset by increased plant efficiencies."
29/10/08 Ajinomoto Sweeteners Europe SAS, a unit of Ajinomoto Co., Inc, the leading manufacturer and supplier of aspartame to the world's major food and drink companies, has announced that the price of aspartame from its plant in Gravelines, France will increase by 15%.
Mr Norifumi Okita, President of Ajinomoto Sweeteners Europe, commented "Over the past few years, Ajinomoto Sweeteners Europe has been faced with a level of increased costs that we are no longer able to offset by increased plant efficiencies.
"It is well known that the costs of carbohydrates used in the natural fermentation of the amino acids used to make aspartame have increased substantially. This, together with continuing increases in other raw material prices, energy costs, wage costs and transportation costs, has pushed us to take this action at this time."
The new pricing will come into effect for non-contractual customers immediately, and will be applied as new contracts are made for 2009 and beyond.
Demand for aspartame has increased dramatically in recent years.
Earlier this year, Coca-Cola announced that it had changed the formulation of Coke Light in Sweden and Norway back from sucralose to an aspartame blend. The company's web site explains that the aspartame blend provides a better taste. In the United States, Cadbury experimented with sucralose in Diet 7-Up but soon reformulated the product to an aspartame blend. In 2007, the Diet Coke variant with sucralose declined by a further 26% and finished the year with a market share of just 0.2%.
Ajinomoto claimed that these developments in the market place confirm the findings of carefully conducted consumer research commissioned by the company. In 2007, a large-scale test, conducted under double-blind conditions, showed that people who choose diet soft drinks prefer the taste of products sweetened with aspartame to those sweetened with sucralose.
In Europe, low calorie soft drink formulations with aspartame have driven market growth. In 1982, the year before aspartame was introduced, sales of low calorie carbonates stood at 389 million litres. By 2007, they had reached 7.2 billion litres, representing growth of 8% versus the previous year. Regular carbonates, on the other hand, struggled to grow by just 0.5%. Per capita consumption of low calorie carbonated drinks in Western Europe is now higher than that of nectars, still drinks, squashes, ice tea, sports drinks or energy drinks.
In other sectors too, aspartame is the market leaders' choice. Sales of sugar-free chewing gum now enjoy a market share of 85% in Germany, 90% in Italy and 100% in Spain and the Czech Republic. Aspartame is the principal sweetener used in chewing gums in all of these countries. In the UK, all of the major low and no sugar brands, including yoghurts, squashes, sparkling drinks, sports drinks, chocolate drinks and probiotics, are sweetened with aspartame.