Shifting its focus from the food ingredient business, Nutrasweet Co. has said that it was planning to open a fitness center for people who are at least 50 years old.
Nutrasweet, a unit of Monsanto Co., is best known for its sweetener by the same name. It has been under intense pressure to develop new products because its patent for the sugar substitute expires next year, opening the way for competition that will force the company to reduce prices.
Nutrasweet's other product, Simplesse, a fat substitute introduced last year, has so far been regarded as a disappointment.
Monsanto attributed weak sales for Simplesse in part to "heavy competition in the fat-free market."
George Rosenbaum, president of Leo J. Shapiro and Associates, a market research firm, said yesterday that both of Nutrasweet's businesses were "in fundamental jeopardy." But Rosenbaum said the fitness center would help the company by providing it with a laboratory to test fat-free food products.