The construction of the first erythritol manufacturing plant in the US was carried out in response to an increased worldwide demand for healthy calorie-reduced foods. The $60 million facility in the US is now fully operational and set to manufacture Eridex-brand erythritol, Cargill's non-caloric bulk sweetener.
"In recent years, interest in erythritol has risen as food manufacturers seek to address the changing diet and nutrition needs of consumers," said Creager Simpson, president of Cargill Food & Pharma Specialties (FPS) North America. "Erythritol is unique. It's the only all-natural, non-caloric crystalline bulk sweetener that looks and tastes like sugar, without the calories. It has the highest digestive tolerance of any polyol. Our plant has the capacity to meet the increasing demand."
Cargill is stepping up worldwide marketing and promotional activities to support the growing number of food and beverage companies seeking to formulate erythritol into their health-related and calorie-reduced products. Erythritol can be used in diet drinks, non-caloric tabletop sweeteners, low-carbohydrate sweet goods, sugar-free and reduced calorie chocolate, and confectionary and bakery items.
The new facility, part of Cargill's corn milling and biorefinery complex, employs about 50 people. Cargill says it is the only erythritol production site in the Western hemisphere and one of only two in the world. The plant was originally constructed to support a joint venture between Cargill and Mitsubishi Chemical.
In addition, the group has formed an alliance with Japanese firm Mitsui to distribute erythritol to food company customers in the Far East. Mitsui-owned Nikken Fine Chemicals (NFC) will be responsible for managing stock inventory, and Mitsui will provide support logistics from the manufacturing site to Japanese stocking locations.
"This alliance combines Cargill's manufacturing and applications expertise with the marketing know-how and strong customer relationships of Nikken Fine Chemicals," said Simpson. "This partnership will deliver great benefits to the innovative food industry in Japan, and ultimately to the Japanese consumer."
NFC has been making polyols reduced calorie starch derivatives for more than 30 years, focusing primarily on sorbitol. Mitsui acquired NFC last year from Nikken Chemicals.
"We are very excited to form an alliance with Cargill which clearly benefits both companies," said Tsunenori Kamano, general manager of Mitsui's food science department. "We are confident the relationship will result in greater sales of erythritol to meet the growing needs of consumers for more healthful foods."
Cargill FPS is part of Cargill's Food System Design (FSD) platform, a group of speciality ingredient businesses that formulate integrated food solutions for customers. FSD is a business unit of Cargill, an international marketer, processor and distributor of agricultural, food, financial and industrial products and services with 98,000 employees in 61 countries.