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HOLLAND SWEETENER COMPANY VOWS TO BE GLOBAL ASPARTAME PRODUCER

    HOLLAND SWEETENER COMPANY VOWS TO BE GLOBAL ASPARTAME PRODUCER
    MAASTRICHT, Netherlands, Jan. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Holland Sweetener Company (HSC) today announced its commitment to become a global competitor in the fast-growing aspartame sweetener market, an estimated $1 billion category that until now has been dominated by a single producer.
    Anticipating the expiration later this year of restrictive patents in the United States held by the NutraSweet unit of Monsanto, HSC will spend more than $60 million to quadruple its present aspartame production capacity to initially some 4.5 million pounds per year by the end of 1993.
    "This is a much more significant and far-reaching announcement than simply expanding our production capacity," said Winfried Vermijs, president of HSC.  "In point of fact, HSC is making the aspartame market globally competitive for the first time since the sweetener was approved for commercial use.  Even though our expanded facility will only be on- line late in 1993, we believe the availability of a credible, alternative supplier of aspartame will immediately impact the U.S. aspartame market."
    Since receiving approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1981, aspartame has grown rapidly to become the high-intensity sweetener of choice in many low calorie and "light" food and beverage products.  The United States accounts for approximately 80 percent of the global aspartame market, according to HSC estimates, of which some 80 percent is used in soft drinks.  HSC believes world consumption of aspartame will increase more than 50 percent by the end of this decade.
    "The expansion of HSC's plant in Europe is an important step for us as the greater economy of scale and added volume will allow us to compete globally," Vermijs explained.
    In order to re-establish and secure a long-term competitive environment in Europe, the European Community imposed in 1991 a substantial anti-dumping duty on NutraSweet's aspartame imports. NutraSweet was found to have charged illegally low prices in Europe. This decision has met with wide approval within the community.  HSC was instrumental in bringing this complaint to the commission, and has now captured 30 percent of this market.
    "We believe the low prices in Europe were subsidized by U.S. patent- protected pricing," Vermijs said.
    The new, fully integrated production facility will be located at HSC's present site in Geleen, the Netherlands, and will utilize proprietary, state-of-the-art technology.  The additional capacity will be sold worldwide.  Export sales to the United States from existing capacity are anticipated immediately after the Dec. 14 patent expiration.
    According to Vermijs, construction of a U.S.-based facility would be the next logical step.  He cautioned, however: "We do not -- at present -- have a timetable for expansion into the U.S., as it will largely depend on a response from the market."
    "We are totally committed to making the world market competitive, and are prepared today to start working with customers to help meet their future demands for aspartame.  We believe competition will benefit everyone -- aspartame purchasers, consumers around the world who use products sweetened with aspartame, and ultimately ourselves."
    HSC is a joint venture of two major chemical companies -- DSM of the Netherlands and Tosoh Corporation of Japan, which are equal partners in the company.  Headquartered in Maastricht, HSC was founded in 1985 to capitalize on proprietary aspartame production technologies DSM and Tosoh developed independently.  Its present facility began commercial production in 1988.
    -0-       1/28/92
    /CONTACT: John Avitabile or Roy Bumsted of Dunwoodie Communications, 212-490-0300, for Holland Sweetener/ CO:  Holland Sweetener Company ST: IN:  FOD SU: CK-TM -- NY041 -- 4216 01/28/92 11:44 EST
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Date:Jan 28, 1992
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