Biospherics aims to sell sweetener in Asia, Australia

May 17, 1994|By Joel Obermayer | Joel Obermayer,Sun Staff Writer

Biospherics Inc. of Beltsville took another step toward the first sale of its nonfattening sugar yesterday with its announcement that it had signed letters of intent with food distributors from Southeast Asia and Australia.

Formal agreements are likely to follow sometime this year and will include initial purchase orders for the sweetener, D-tagatose, said Vice President Lee R. Zehner.

The arrangements have been made with food distributors BODI Co. Ltd. of Bangkok and P.C. Wickham Pty Ltd. of Melbourne, Australia, and Mr. Zehner said the company expects to sign a letter with a third distributor later this week. The three food companies plan to sell the nonfattening sugar in packets of table sweetener, chocolate candy and chewing gum.

Together the three distributors' networks cover 10 countries and almost 400 million people, the company said in a release.

Biospherics' D-tagatose occurs naturally in some dairy products and is almost as sweet as sugar, but has virtually no calories.

"We would like to start with small shipments, increasing depending on demand. Our expectation is to sell further in Asia because of the growth in the economies there," Mr. Zehner said.

The company has already exported test quantities of the sweetener to some countries under their food and health regulations, the release said. The company has also made results of toxicity tests available to Asian health officials, but does not expect a long approval process, Mr. Zehner said.

"Health regulations in many of those countries say [D-tagatose] is a natural sugar. It should receive immediate approval," he said.

In contrast, selling the sweetener in Europe and the United States will take much longer, he said.

For example, it could take three to five more years to obtain approval from the Food and Drug Administration to sell the sweetener in this country.

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