German specialty chemical company Evonik and Thailand-based Rajburi Sugar have formed a joint venture (JV) to produce isomalt in Asia.

Both companies have officially opened their demonstration plant in Ratchaburi, Thailand.

Isomalt is a versatile, low-calorie sugar substitute used in candies, chewing gum and other products.

For the production of isomalt, the facility will be using a high-yield production process that has been developed and patented by Evonik.

Evonik executive board deputy chairman Christian Kullmann said: “South-East Asia is an important growth market for Evonik. We aim to develop new markets with innovative products and solutions that truly benefit people.

“We are the first to manufacture the sugar substitute locally, and I am confident that we have a product with considerable potential.”

Engaged in producing low-calorie alternatives, Rajburi Sugar is reported to be one of the key sugar manufacturers in Thailand.

It is also engaged in producing low-calorie alternatives.

“The new approach is the result of our ability to innovate and collaborate."

The demand for sugar substitutes is increasing in Asia, as the rate of diabetes and obesity is constantly growing.

As a result of this, the companies have shifted their focus towards low-calorie foods and confectionery manufacturers are increasingly turning to sugar-free products.

Unlike other sugar substitutes, isomalt does not absorb any moisture from ambient air, and it does not clump during manufacturing process, as a result of this sweets won’t stick to each other and eliminates the need of individual packing.

Using this characteristic of isomalt, researchers at Creavis, Evonik’s strategic innovation unit, have linked up with process technology specialists to simplify the conventional isomalt production process.

The new method uses biotechnology to raise the isomalt yield.

Evonik chief innovation officer Ulrich Küsthardt said: “The new approach is the result of our ability to innovate and collaborate. 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.”

Isomalt produced at the new plant will be primarily used in food and dietary supplements and marketed in South-East Asia by Evonik’s pharma and food ingredients portfolio, as well as Rajburi Sugar under the brand name Risumalt.