Ajinomoto builds up amino acid supplies

Related tags Amino acids Amino acid

In response to growing demand for amino acids, Japanese food
fermentation leader Ajinomoto ramps up production of amino acids
for food and pharmaceuticals, with a €40 million investment in a
new Brazilian plant.

The largest fermentation company in terms of volume, Ajinomoto said the new 4000 MT facility will initially produce four amino acid products: glutamine, valine, leucine and isoleucine.

In addition to supplying Latin America, Brazil will become Ajinomoto's largest export base for supplying amino acid raw materials around the world, the Japanese firm confirmed.

The new plant will have easy access to raw sugar derived from sugar cane, the major raw material in fermentation, said the company.

Ajinomoto dominates the amino acid market, with more than 25 per cent of the market for lysine alone and 30 per cent of the MSG. ADM and BASF also figure in the handful of players that dominate the landscape.

According to analysts BCC, amino acids is the second, and fastest growing category behind antibiotics in the €10.97 billion fermentation market, with strong growth of 7.2 per cent for the next four years.

Pitched at €10.97 billion in 2004, the global market for fermentation products, that includes enzymes, amino acids, citric acid and xanthan gum, is expected to rise by 4.8 per cent per year, to reach €13.6 billion in 2009.

Lysine and monosodium glutamate (MSG) are the largest products in this category, and the total market value for amino acids, including threonine and tryptophan, is estimated to be in the range of $3.5 billion (€2.68bn) in 2004.

Due to increasing consumption, but also expected price increases for the products, the market in 2009 is expected to rise to about $5 billion.

"Demand for lysine, a key feed ingredient, and MSG continue to drive demand for amino acids. At about one million tons, MSG sees strong volumes, mostly pulling from Asia,"​analyst Ulrich März explains to FoodNavigator.com.

Ajinomoto claims, in addition to their conventional use as raw materials for infusions and medical foods, pharmaceutical- and food-use amino acids have found an increasing number of applications in strengthening immune functions, alleviating symptoms of nervous disorders, and in drug discovery research.

The market for amino acids for beverages, health foods and supplements has also expanded in the last several years, with global demand pitched at about 17,000 tons.

Glutamine, used in sports nutrition, and branch chain amino acids (valine, leucine and isoleucine) used for maintaining and building skeletal muscle, are particularly strong in these growing markets.

The new plant in Limeira, Brazil, the ninth amino acid facility for Ajinomoto, is slated for completion by the second half of 2005.

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