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DSM goes sour on aspartame

Holland Sweetener Co (HSC), a 50/50 joint venture between DSM and Japan's Tosoh Corp, will cease aspartame production this year, citing low margins as the primary reason. DSM said the decision to exit the market was taken as global aspartame markets were "facing structural oversupply" that had led to price erosion over the past five years. "This has resulted in a persistently unprofitable business position for HSC. No significant improvements are expected in the near or foreseeable future," DSM stated.

A company spokeswoman told that the decision was not informed by the negative press aspartame and other sweeteners have attracted over safety issues. "This has not been a factor," she said. "We believe the product is safe, and there have been as many studies supporting this as there have been studies suggesting otherwise." DSM had several patents on its version of aspartame, named Twinsweet, which it developed in 1995.

Recent findings of the Department of Food Science and Technology at Ohio State University have shown consumer sweetener preferences are less related to sweetness per se and more to do with its other undesirable tastes, such as bitterness, sourness or metallic notes.

Of the 13 sweeteners OSU tested, sugar was rated as the most acceptable sweetener, followed by sucralose, xylitol, aspartame and fructose.

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