UK-based sugar and ingredients group Tate & Lyle has opened of a research and development facility in Shanghai.

The company said the technical service and research team at the new unit will initially focus on beverage, dairy and bakery applications.

"We have served the Asian market for some time, but basing an R&D team in Shanghai means we can better target our products and services to local customer needs and help customers optimise their product formulations," said Mun Hay Tang, manager, technical service and applications for Tate & Lyle. "At the same time we will learn more about Asian consumer preferences and trends, and how our ingredients can help to solve the challenges our customers face in this market."

The R&D team will develop prototypes of Asian and Western foods and beverages to demonstrate how the company's ingredients work, and how products can be adjusted to meet local consumer preferences in taste and texture.

The positive news represents something of a respite for the beleaguered company. Last week, Tate & Lyle warned that its sugar business would post a loss for the first half of the year and that the first half of the year had been flat for its Splenda sucralose and US and European ingredients businesses, sending its shares tumbling.