The NutraSweet Co. announced that it will exit the aspartame segment of its business to concentrate on sales of other more profitable sweetener lines. As a result, the Company expects to shut down its aspartame and L-phenylalanine production plant by the end of 2014.
The facility currently employs about 210 people, including contractors. NutraSweet is offering severance payments and outplacement assistance to its affected employees.
According to NutraSweet CEO William DeFer, foreign competition was the primary reason for the decision to shift the company’s focus to its other sweetener products.
“Low-cost imports now dominate the aspartame market, making it impossible for us to sustain a profitable business while maintaining our unmatched standard of quality,” DeFer said.
“By contrast, neotame and Twinsweet®, our other sweeteners, occupy unique, high value positions in a market where food and beverage makers need low-calorie alternatives to satisfy changing consumer tastes.”
NutraSweet intends to fulfill its existing customer contracts and will assist customers with supply allocations until the shut down. The Company will maintain production, sales and distribution capabilities for neotame and Twinsweet® in Augusta.
DeFer noted that the Augusta aspartame plant supplied a global customer base for more than 30 years and in that time set the industry’s highest standards for quality, reliability and service.
“Our people have always been the key ingredient in our success,” he said. “They have a lot to be proud of.”