In the last year Tate & Lyle has been rebuilding sales of its Splenda brand, which suffered a the opening of the firm’s Singapore production plant as some important customers ran down stocks they had amassed.
In a trading statement issued today, ahead of the full year results due on 28 May, the ingredients firm said that volumes and profits increased over Q4 ended 31 March, “although they were lower than a strong quarter in the comparative prior year period”.
In today’s statement Tate & Lyle said it is making progress in improving manufacturing yields as it is implementing more process developments at its pilot plant.
In the US, however, demand for sweeteners, as well as industrial starches, is said to have “remained weak”.
The company is currently awaiting the final and binding decision of the International Trade Commission over a patent infringement lawsuit it brought against a number of Chinese sucralose manufacturers and distributors.
The decision has been delayed a number of times, and is now expected on 3rd April.
A company spokesperson told FoodNavigator-USA.com on March 10 that Tate & Lyle did not know why the ruling was pushed back at that time, and would not speculate on what the postponement implied.
However the decision will have big implications for the sucralose market as Tate & Lyle, which developed the sweetener in the 1970s, is by far the biggest player and in the past held a monopoly.
In recent years, however, new players have emerged on the market. For instance, Swiss-Indian firm Fusion Nutraceuticals began operating last year, producing sucralose more cheaply in India using expired Tate & Lyle patents.
Tate & Lyle, meanwhile, said these patents are based on first generation technology, and that it now uses considerably more advanced and cost effective technology.