Evonik, Rajburi Sugar partner on isomalt

6 Apr 2017

A joint venture between Evonik Industries and Thai company Rajburi Sugar will be the first enterprise to manufacture isomalt in Asia, Evonik has announced.

Evonik, Rajburi Sugar partner on isomalt

A joint venture between Evonik Industries and Thai company Rajburi Sugar will be the first enterprise to manufacture isomalt in Asia, Evonik has announced. 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.

Isomalt is described as a versatile substitute with all the sweetness of sugar, but just half the calories and is used in candies, chewing gum and other products. It is also suitable for diabetics.

“Southeast Asia is an important growth market for Evonik. We aim to develop new markets with innovative products and solutions that truly benefit people,” said Christian Kullmann, Deputy Chairman of the Evonik Executive Board. “We are the first to manufacture the sugar substitute locally, and I am confident that we have a product with considerable potential.”

“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,” said Dr. Sunthorn Arunanondchai, president and CEO of C.P. Land and chairman of Rajburi Sugar. “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.”

Demand for sugar substitutes is high in Asia, Evonik says, and incidence of diabetes and obesity is growing, noting that 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, believes the company, there is a growing need for low-calorie foods, and confectionary manufacturers are increasingly turning to sugar-free products.

In contrast to other sugar substitutes, Evonik says that isomalt absorbs virtually no moisture from ambient air. Since it does not clump during manufacturing, or as an end product, sweets and other treats do not stick together – and therefore do not need to be packaged individually. Moreover, they are claimed to fulfil consumers’ high expectations in terms of aesthetics and health.

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.

“The new approach is the result of our ability to innovate and collaborate,” said Dr. Ulrich Küsthardt, Chief Innovation Officer at Evonik. “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.”