The sweetener giant said the new price, which is a result of higher costs including energy and carbohydrates used in the fermentation process, will come into effect for non-contractual customers straight away; for customers under contract, they will be applied as new deals are struck for 2009.
Norifumi Okita, president of Ajinomoto Sweeteners Europe, indicated that the company has been working on plant efficiencies, but that these are no longer able to cover the increased costs.
“It is well known that the costs of carbohydrates used in the natural fermentation of the animo acids used to make aspartame have increase substantially,” he said.
“This, together with continuing increases in other raw material prices, energy costs, wage costs and transportation costs, has pushed us to take action at this time.”
A spokesperson told FoodNavitgator.com that the price increases on either side of the Atlantic are linked, as Ajinomoto has two production plants, one in France and one in Tokyo, Japan.
“The same costs are applicable across the board.”
The company says that demand for aspartame is increasing. This is said to be due in part to desire for a low calorie diet globally. Indeed, the communication from the US said that demand “is quickly approaching the global supply capacities”.
The spokesperson said Ajinomoto would not comment about possible expansion plans at this time, but said that as demand increases, the company “will strive to meet that demand”.
A recent report from Leatherhead Food International gave the global aspartame market in 2007 as around 17,000 tonnes, worth US$637m.
The UK-based consultancy says that prices had actually fallen since 2005 as there has been oversupply in the market.
LFI says the oversupply was one reason for DSM’s exit from the aspartame market in 2006. Alongside Ajinomoto, NutraSweet is the other market leader for aspartame, and held the US patent until 1992.
Ajinomoto would give no view on the broader market situation as depicted by Leatherhead, beyond saying that Ajinomoto looks to supplying the needs of its customers – and demand from them is on the up.