Isomalt is a versatile substitute used in candies, chewing gum and other products. It is also suitable for diabetics. A joint venture between Evonik Industries and Thai company Rajburi Sugar, will be the first enterprise to manufacture isomalt in Asia. To this end, the partners have officially opened a demonstration plant in Ratchaburi (Thailand). The facility will employ a special, high-yield production process developed and patented by Evonik. Total investment is in the low single-digit million euro range.
As Christian Kullmann, Deputy Chairman of the Evonik Executive Board, explained at the commissioning ceremony: “Southeast Asia is an important growth market for Evonik. We aim to develop new markets with innovative products and solutions that truly benefit people. We are the first to manufacture the sugar substitute locally, and I am confident that we have a product with considerable potential.”
Demand for low-calorie foods is growing in Asia
Demand for sugar substitutes is high in Asia, and incidence of diabetes and obesity is growing. Nearly one in ten Asians now suffers from type-2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease. Recent studies suggest this could double in the next 25 years. Consequently, there is a growing need for low-calorie foods, and confectionary manufacturers are increasingly turning to sugar-free products.
Dr. Sunthorn Arunanondchai, president and CEO of C.P. Land and chairman of Rajburi Sugar, said, “I am very pleased that Evonik, as one of the world's largest specialty chemical companies, will produce the sugar substitute isomalt together with Rajburi Sugar in Asia. The joint venture pools our competencies. We supply the raw material and will put all of our effort into marketing the product locally, while the innovative power of Evonik made the new demonstration plant possible in the first place.”
A high-yield production process developed by Evonik
Against this background, researchers at Creavis, Evonik’s strategic innovation unit, have linked up with process technology specialists to streamline the conventional isomalt production process. The new method comprises fewer steps, and employs biotechnology to raise the isomalt yield. Dr. Ulrich Küsthardt, Chief Innovation Officer at Evonik, emphasizes: “The new approach is the result of our ability to innovate and collaborate. Creavis initiated a successful project – that required the unit to work closely with experts from Evonik’s operational segments and our Thai partner. The new demonstration plant is a further stepping stone towards establishing a new line of business based on advanced food ingredients.”