Danisco deal to take new calorie-free sweetener to Japan

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Danisco has entered into a license agreement for its
anhydrofructose technology with Japan's Nihon Starch Co, the first
such deal aimed at bringing the new calorie-free sugar to
market.

Anhydrofructose is a sugar that occurs naturally in edible mushrooms and seaweeds, but it is normally produced on a commercial scale from glucose, resulting in a version that contains calories. However after a number of years research, Danisco found a way to produce a calorie-free anhydrofructose from starch that has very much the same taste, which means it could be used as a sweetener for foods targeting the popular calorie-free segment. Telmo Figueiredo, patent manager, intellectual assets, at Danisco told FoodNavigator.com that the major food use for the anhydrofructose is expected to be as a sweetener in a broad range of food applications, including bakery. The sugar also has antimicrobial effects on gram-positive bacteria, which gives it uses in food protection (especially meats), and can be used as a natural antioxidant in foods to boost shelf-life. Moreover he said it has non-food applications in pharmaceuticals based on its potential to provide sweetness without calories. Another area (although one not exploited by Nihon) is in green chemistry, where the anhydrofructose can be used in the production of biofuels. Figueiredo said that the first licensing deal was struck with Nihon since the Japanese firm was already targeting this area, and the two companies have been working together to prepare for market (including overcoming regulatory hurdles and setting up production equipment) for a number of years. Danisco obtained the Japanese patent in May 2004, and has also protected the technology in other markets. Figueiredo said Danisco hopes companies in other countries will also be interested in the technology. The markets with the most potential are identified as Europe, the US, Australia and India - although he said that it will need to go through the appropriate regulatory processes. Nihon Starch Co is described as one of the largest starch processing and food companies in Japan. Figueiredo's colleague Aksel Buchter-Larsen, VP, intellectual assets - patents, said: "We are very proud of this agreement and are confident that the highly-esteemed and successful Japanese company , Nihon Starch Co Ltf, is capable of speeding up the introduction of this new technology into the Japanese market." Nihon has overseen regulatory compliance requirements for the Japanese market. The deal with Nihon - which covers some non-food as well as food applications - consists of a lump sum payable at the outset, followed by royalties as a percentage of sales. The agreement runs for the life of the 20-year patent, although it can be rescinded by Danisco should Nihon stop selling the ingredient.

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