Ajinomoto "strengthens" US business

Ajinomoto "strengthens" US business

Japanese food majors Ajinomoto Co. and Toyo Suisan Kaisha are to establish a noodle venture in North America.

Ajinomoto will hold 80% of the newly-established company, while Toyo Suisan will own the remaining 20%.

Toyo Suisan will provide Ajinomoto with technical expertise in the production of frozen noodle products. Toyo Suisan already controls 60% of the US market for instant noodles.

Sales will be handled through Ajinomoto's wholly-owned subsidiary, Ajinomoto North America. Noodles will be sold under the Ajinomoto brand and are expected to hit the market in 2015. The companies aim to achieve sales of 8,000 tons by 2025. 

The tie-up will enable Ajinomoto to expand the range products it offers in the US to include ramen and "other new products" in addition to chow mein.

"These measures will strengthen the technological side of the frozen noodle business of Ajinomoto Co., which is a growth driver of the company's steadily expanding frozen food business in North America," Ajinomoto said.

Since Ajinomoto formed its frozen food unit in 2000 the business has been "steadily expanding", with net sales estimated at JPY10bn (US$95.8m) in fiscal 2013, the company added. According to Ajinimoto, the US frozen noodle market was valued at JPY15bn in 2012, an 18% increase on the previous year.

Ajinomoto has increased its focus on expanding in the US over the last year. In April, Ajinomoto restructured its North American unit to "further strengthen and expand the consumer food business" in North America by integrating the operations of its shelf stable business, which centers on seasonings, and the frozen food business.

In a separate deal, Ajinomoto and Toyo Suisan have also agreed to work together to drive "rapid expansion" in India and Nigeria.