Ajinomoto Sells French Sweetener Aspartame Business to HYET

 by Robin Wyers

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22 Sep 2015 — HYET Holding B.V. has announced the purchase of Ajinomoto Sweeteners Europe S.A.S. (ASE) in Northern France for a reported token fee, as part of their global expansion. The purchase will ensure all employees at the Gravelines manufacturing site will remain in employment. A trust fund has been set up to ensure security for the factory employees following some initial worries about job cuts from trade unions.

Ajinomoto announced some time ago that it would consolidate production of aspartame, to its largest production facility at Tokai in Japan, in order to enhance the efficiency of its sweetener operation. This is the final step of this process. Ailbhe Fallon, a spokesperson for Ajinomoto said that the global market for aspartame has been stable over the past three years, albeit prices have edged lower; maintaining cost efficiency is essential for the sustainability of Ajinomoto’s sweeteners business.

The Share Purchase Agreement (SPA) was signed yesterday by both parties for 100% of the shares of ASE to be transferred from Ajinomoto Co., Inc. (Ajinomoto Co.) to HYET Holding B.V.. The corporate name of ASE will change to HYET Sweet S.A.S. and the share transfer date is set to be finalized on October 1, 2015.

“HYET will be adding European Manufacturing to their portfolio and implementing backward integration to offer customers consistent supply of high quality sweeteners,” Zoë Ellis, Global Marketing and Communications Manager at HYET.

“We are delighted to be able to preserve the Gravelines site and secure a future for all employees. The purchase of ASE will take our company to an exiting new phase. HYET Sweet is one of the leading suppliers of sweeteners in Europe and sells in over 35 countries. With the extensive market experience of HYET Sweet and the expertise in manufacturing of the Gravelines site, we are confident we will strengthen our position in the global sweeteners market,” said Ad Timmermans, CEO of HYET Group.

The Gravelines site was established in 1991 and has been producing Aspartame since 1993. The site was initially named Euro-Aspartame S.A. and owned 50:50 by USA’s NutraSweet and Ajinomoto Co.. It has been Ajinomoto Co.’s 100% subsidiary since 2000 and re-named Ajinomoto Sweeteners Europe S.A.S. in 2006.

HYET Holding B.V. is a sister company of HYET Sweet B.V., which is headquartered in Breda, the Netherlands. HYET Sweet was founded in 2009 and since then has specialised in the supply of sweeteners, which include: Aspartame, Sucralose, Acesulfame-K and Stevia. HYET Sweet has warehouses in the Netherlands, North-America and Canada and sells in over 35 countries.

Ellis noted that the company believes there is a market for Aspartame as well as the other High Intensity Sweeteners such as Acesulfame-K and Sucralose. “For many major brands, use of Aspartame as an ingredient is still dominating due to their diet brands expanding into new markets. Aspartame comes close to the taste profile of sugar and is still one of the sweeteners of choice for many leading companies,” she noted.

Fallon said that Ajinomoto is very confident that the future is very bright for AminoSweet Aspartame and Advantame. “At a time when there is very real and legitimate concern about the public health consequences of overweight and obesity, aspartame is an important tool enabling the food industry to deliver sweetness without calories, in products which are chosen by millions of people all around the world every day,” she stated.


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