An agreement between Germany's Nordzucker sugar producer and the Danish dairy group Arla will see the first products using the new sweetener tagatose launched on the market. The agreement, which was first announced in June, was completed yesterday, and work can now begin on the construction of a new plant to produce the sweetener in bulk.
Tagatose was created by the US group Spherix, which licensed the product to Arla for use in food applications, and the US group has been critical of the length of time the European group has taken to bring such products to the market, so much so that it began legal proceedings against Arla earlier this year.
The Danish comapny said that the new production plant would turn out 1,250 metric tons of the low-calorie sweetner per year, and that the first products containing tagatose would be available by the middle of 2003.
In a statement, Spherix said it was pleased that tagatose would soon be bringing royalties to the company, optimistically predicting that the demand for tagatose in food products would soon force Arla to expand the facility or build a new plant expansion of the facility or construction of a second plant. The company stressed that the signing of the agreement between Arla and Nordzucker would have no effect on the legal proceedings against the Danish group, which would continue as planned.
While Spherix has licensed the tagatose rights to Arla for use in food products, it has retained the rights to the sweetener for use in non-food applications, branding the product Naturlose. Spherix said it had been negotiating with several potential partners over the last few months concerning the construction or modification of a production facility for the sweetener, and has also filed a number of patents concerning tagatose's application in toothpaste, mouthwash, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.