Dutch firm Prinsen, which recently struck a deal with Bangalore-based BioPlus Life Sciences to distribute Bioplus’s sucralose in Western Europe, is in talks with all the leading UK supermarkets about supplying sucralose for own-label table-top sweeteners in tablet or granular form.
Prinsen’s UK md Peter Tattersall said: “Asda was first with a private-label sucralose sweetener, which it is sourcing from Germany. But Tesco, Sainsbury and Morrisons are now looking at own-label as well, so we are talking to all of them. We’ve got a quote out with Tesco and Sainsbury is doing a tender.
"We’re also talking to Boots and Waitrose, which are looking at launching a branded sucralose sweetener.”
He added: “Many of our customers need the supply assurance that comes with a legitimate second source of sucralose [an alternative to market leader Tate & Lyle] and we are pleased to help meet this need.”
Safe and legal
BioPlus manufactures sucralose using a process it claims does not infringe any of Tate & Lyle's patents and is itself supported by a suite of patents “filed in all key markets including the US and Canada".
It added: "The availability of a new, reliable, high-quality source of sucralose will eliminate the quality and legal risks associated with sourcing and using sucralose marketed by suppliers other than Tate & Lyle.”
Companies buying sucralose from ‘non-patented’ suppliers were taking a significant risk, claimed Bioplus: “Significant quality issues exist for users of non-patented suppliers of sucralose, related to product quality and specifications, total purity, non-sucralose contaminants and production site traceability.
“Furthermore, in addition to the potential risk of intellectual property (IP) indemnification, there is the prospect of future patent and IP infringement issues when 30 BioPlus patent applications are issued over the next 12-24 months.”
Tate & Lyle: lower average selling prices
Market leader Tate & Lyle, which has mothballed its Alabama plant and concentrated sucralose production at Singapore following a “scientific breakthrough” that increased yields by 25%, said sucralose “continued to deliver volume growth at lower average selling prices” in the year to March 31, 2010.
However, analysts predict it will not be able to sustain its profit margins on sucralose for long as Indian firms such as Bioplus and Chinese firms such as JK Sucralose and Niutang increase capacity.
However, Irish firm Fusion Nutraceuticals, which sources its sucralose from Indian pharmaceutical firm Alkem, has not made significant progress since launching on the European market in 2008. The firm, which Tate & Lyle claimed was using outdated “first-generation technology”, is not returning telephone calls.
Sucralose is used in several thousand food and beverage products across the globe, from infant formula to diet soft drinks, confectionery, dairy products, baked goods and flavoured waters.