Neotame, a dipeptide sweetener derived from aspartame that is 8000 times sweeter than sugar, is always used in sweetener blends, either with sugar and/or other high intensity sweeteners. When used with sugar, neotame is most commonly used to replace between 20 and 25 per cent of the sugar.
“At this level, products can maintain the same taste as the full sugar controls – which is a critical factor.” CEO Craig Petray told FoodNavigator.com. He added that neotame has also been seen to enhance other flavours in products.
In 2010 sugar prices rose more than 70 per cent due to a supply crunch, reaching a 30 year high in December of 31.08 US cents per pound. Ongoing price pressure is expected in 2011 as supplies look to fall short of demand. Both Brazil and Australia, two of the top three exporters globally (with Thailand) have been hit by weather problems.
Commodity-watch website Index Mundi said in January that even if ending stocks and global stocks to user rise this year this would not “project a massive correction or a new bear market – it will take several years to rebuild stocks”.
Petray added that the company also saw its aspartame sales volumes rise by 10 per cent in 2010.
New European users
Greater take up of neotame by new European users is also expected to make a significant contribution to growth in 2011, the first full year since the sweetener gained novel foods approval in the bloc (in January 2010). NutraSweet’s European distribution partners are Brenntag, covering Western and Eastern Europe, and Disproquima, covering Iberia.
“The response from the European marketplace to neotame so far has been very positive,” Petray said. “There is a great deal of interest in creating great tasting sweetener blends that reduce overall sweetener costs - and neotame is the critical tool to accomplishing this.”
The sweetener has also recently gained approval in Norway, Turkey, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Israel.
At present 90 per cent of NutraSweet’s neotame sales are outside the US – mostly Latin America and Asia. Although neotame finds broad uses across food categories, the most popular applications are in beverages, such as carbonated, still drinks, energy drinks, juices, yogurt drinks, low juice content drinks, and powdered drinks.