Haarmann & Reimer acquired, will merge with Dragoco
EQT Northern Europe Private Equity Funds signed an agreement in July with Bayer to acquire flavors and fragrances manufacturer Haarmann & Reimer.

EQT also plans to acquire shares in H&R’s competitor Dragoco and merge the two into a new company, operating under a new name. EQT will have a controlling stake of 76% in the new company, Dragoco CEO Horst-Otto Gerberding will hold a 22% stake, and NordLB will hold a 2% stake. Gerberding will head the new company. Lambert Courth, President and CEO of Haarmann & Reimer, will return to Bayer after the conclusion of the transaction in order to assume new responsibilities there.

The merger will create a company with annual sales of 1.24 billion euros. The new headquarters will be located in Holzminden, Germany, where both companies are currently based. Both companies operate in the areas of fragrances and flavor compositions, aroma chemicals, and cosmetic ingredients.

EQT is a group of private equity funds sponsored by Investor AB, the publicly listed holding company of the Wallenberg group. EQT Partners, acting as investment advisor to all EQT funds, has offices in Stockholm, Copenhagen, Helsinki, and Munich.

World Food Summit ends with treaty
This year’s World Food Summit, entitled, “World Food Summit: Five Years Later,” ended with 45 new signatories to the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

The summit, which was held in Rome, Italy, June 10–13, 2002, was sponsored by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. Its purpose was to review the progress made to end hunger since the 1996 World Food Summit and consider ways to accelerate the process. Delegations from more than 180 countries attended.

The treaty was adopted by consensus at the FAO Conference in November 2001. Its objectives are to conserve plant genetic resources, their sustainable use, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from their use, including monetary benefits resulting from commercialization. The international treaty provides for farmers’ rights and establishes a multilateral system to exchange the genetic resources of 64 major crops and forages important for global food security. The 45 new signatories bring the total number to 56, including 35 developing countries, 20 developed countries, and the European Community.

Food product introductions continue to decline
Fewer new food products are being introduced, according to Food Review: Consumer-Driven Agriculture, a report by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service that details trends in new food product introductions.

New food product introductions, which peaked at nearly 17,000 in 1995 in the United States, dropped to just over 9,000 in 2000, the fifth consecutive year of decline. The top five categories in 2000—candy, gum, and snacks; condiments; beverages; bakery products; and dairy—declined significantly over the five-year period. However, new all-natural food products increased 178% from 1995 to 2000, while new organic products increased 57%. Reduced- and low-fat products more than doubled between 1999 and 2000.

The report is available at www.ers.usda.gov/publications/FoodReview/May2002/frvol25i1e.pdf.

AHA questions fat substitute health benefits
The American Heart Association issued an advisory in June stating that the effectiveness of the health benefits of fat substitutes is still in question because individuals who use them seldom lose weight.

The advisory was published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. The statement aims to clarify the role of the fat substitutes used in many food products and provides information on the pros and cons of including them in the diet. Fat substitutes are compounds incorporated into foods to provide them with the same qualities of fat, such as moisture retention and texture.

Judith Wylie-Rosett, a member of the American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee and author of the statement, said the number of overweight individuals continues to increase despite the fact that more than 90% of the U.S. adult population report consuming low- or reduced-fat foods and beverages, many of which contain fat substitutes. She is a professor of epidemiology and social medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, N.Y.

“The bottom line is that foods made with fat substitutes, used in moderation, may provide some flexibility in food selection, but are not an effective strategy on their own for weight control,” she said. “Often, reduced-fat versions of products have the same or even more calories than their full-fat versions.”

Fat substitutes seem to have led to an overall trend for less fat in the diet. Americans have nearly met the government’s population-wide goal of reducing fat consumption to no more than 30% of total calories. Although Americans are getting the message about reducing fat intake, now the emphasis must be put on reducing obesity rates, which have doubled in the past 20 years.

More information is available at http://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/full/105/23/2800.

FDA approves neotame
The Food and Drug Administration announced in July its approval of neotame for use as a general-purpose sweetener in a wide variety of food products other than meat and poultry.

Neotame is a non-nutritive, high-intensity sweetener manufactured by the NutraSweet Co., Mount Prospect, Ill.

For more information, see the article on neotame on page 36 of the July issue of Food Technology.

Assistant Editor