The global food ingredients producer invested €23m into its Danisco Sweeteners factory, located in Lenzing, Austria, to secure and increase the production of xylose, a monosaccharide and the raw material for xylitol production.
"Our strategy is to develop the xylitol business globally and the expansion at Lenzing is an important piece in our plan," said Nicholas Dunning, EVP of Danisco's sweeteners and pharma unit.
As well as improving its business opportunities, the new development also has environmental benefits. Dunning added: "This integration is an excellent example of Danisco's ongoing commitment to increased sustainability and the utilization of renewable, natural resources,"
Xylitol is a cariostatic bulk sweetener, which is used as a sugar substitute and recognised for its unique dental benefits.
Danisco's manufacturing process is based on its highly efficient proprietary and patented technology to produce xylose from hardwood sources. Because the raw material is wood, this is a completely renewable, natural resource.
Danisco said its manufacturing efficiency is enhanced by close co-operation with Lenzing AG, a leader in cellulose fibre technology. It also helps in achieving sustainability as Lenzing provides Danisco with dissolved pulp from its process stream, from which xylose is extracted before being given back for further processing.
Spokesperson Sarah-Jane Jumppanen told FoodNavigator.com: "Our close integration with Lenzing AG's pulp plant enables us to exploit synergy in raw material processing, reduce energy and utility consumption and significantly reduce the environmental impact of the plants, compared to if they were operated independently."
Danisco said the new, biggest factory is now the largest xylose factory in the world. It was designed and initiated at the beginning of 2006. Production is now running at full speed and the company expects it will have a payback of less than three years.
Xylitol has experienced remarkable growth since its commercialisation in the early 1970s, particularly due to its inclusion as a key ingredient in sugar free chewing gum with its cool refreshing taste and dental benefits.
Recent research has suggested it has a plaque-reducing effect, it may aid in repairing minor cavities
It is also often used in diabetic diets because it is absorbed more slowly than sugar and so does not contribute to high blood sugar levels or hyperglycaemia. It is approved for use in over 50 countries.
Danisco plans to expand production when the market growth requires it, but said it will probably not take place in China as it sees Chinese competitiveness declining in this sector because of environmental, quality and cost problems.