Issue Date: September 7, 2015
Ajinomoto Will Exit European Sweeteners
Ajinomoto plans to sell its bulk aspartame plant in France to the Dutch sweetener distributor Hyet Sweet for about $1. The transaction was not unexpected. Last year, the Japanese firm, which has been in the aspartame business since 1982, told shareholders that it would consolidate sweeteners operations at its Tokai plant in Japan because a flood of “new market entrants” were squeezing profits. At least one other aspartame maker has shut down operations. Competitor NutraSweet, which traces its roots to the introduction of aspartame in 1981, shuttered its aspartame plant in Augusta, Ga., at the end of last year because of a flood of low-cost imports from China. More than 200 workers lost their jobs at the NutraSweet plant. However, the sale of Ajinomoto’s French plant, in Gravelines near Dunkirk, preserves about 100 jobs for now. Ajinomoto and Hyet had been in talks since May, but it took three months to work out an agreement that included the continued employment of existing workers. Ajinomoto says it will record a $58 million charge when the sale is completed in October.
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