Trade Resources Company News Ajinomoto to Invest $15m in Hinoman

Ajinomoto to Invest $15m in Hinoman

Ajinomoto has agreed to invest $15m in Israeli plant-based protein company Hinoman.

Ajinomoto has also agreed to acquire the exclusive sales rights in Japan for Mankai, Hinoman Ltd.’s high-protein plant material with extraordinary nutritional value. 

Ajinomoto Co. aims to establish a new business by promoting the development and sale of processed foods that use Mankai as well as sale of Mankai as an ingredient. By providing a sustainable product with extraordinary nutritional value to Japanese consumers, Ajinomoto Co. will help to resolve the social issue of insufficient protein and amino acid nutrition.

In Japan, undernutrition and nutritional imbalance are emerging as a social issue for a wide range of generations including the elderly, and young women. Information on the amino acid composition of food has been expanded in the “Standard Tables of Food Composition in Japan – 2015” established by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, and interest in protein and amino acid nutrition is increasing.

However, the difficulty of ingesting a sufficient amount of protein just by eating meat and fish in daily meals is a problem. Demand is increasing for processed foods that can easily supply high-quality protein as one way of solving this problem.

The market for foods consumed for protein exceeded approximately JPY 230 billion in 2016, an increase of 12% compared with 2010 (Ajinomoto Co. survey), and it is expected to continue growing at an annual rate of 2-3%.

Mankai is a variety of the aquatic plant duckweed to which Hinoman Ltd. holds breeding rights in Israel. Its digestion and absorption efficiency in the body is superior to existing protein ingredients. It also has extraordinary nutritional value, containing vitamins, minerals, unsaturated fatty acids such as omega-3 fatty acids, and dietary fiber.

Moreover, because Mankai can be cultivated in a short period with a relatively small amount of water, light and nutrients, it can be produced efficiently with a minimal ecological footprint. Hinoman Ltd. has developed the know-how to enable commercial production of Mankai with optimal energy usage.

Ajinomoto Co. will invest in Hinoman Ltd. by subscribing to a third-party allocation of new shares and by acquiring shares from current shareholders, and will acquire exclusive sales rights in Japan for Mankai.

By combining Mankai, a high-protein plant material with extraordinary nutritional value, and its own seasoning and processing technologies and product development and marketing capabilities, Ajinomoto Co. plans to develop new products with a well-balanced nutritional profile and sell them in the Japanese market.

The investment in Hinoman Ltd. is scheduled for late March 2017, and launches of products that use Mankai are scheduled for fiscal 2018 and thereafter. The impact of these matters on Ajinomoto Co.’s results for fiscal 2016 and fiscal 2017 is immaterial.

Providing products that use specialty materials and proprietary technologies is one of the ways that Ajinomoto Co. contributes to resolving the social issues of global sustainability and food resources, as well as to the health and well-being of consumers, with the aim of becoming a Genuine Global Specialty Company.

Special Features of Mankai

(1) Natural and sustainable plant material

A variety of the aquatic plant duckweed containing a high level of protein. A very small plant with a diameter of approximately 0.5 mm, it is proliferative and can be produced efficiently with a minimal ecological footprint.

(2) Extraordinary nutritional value

The main nutritional components of Mankai include protein, vitamins, minerals, unsaturated fatty acids (omega-3 fatty acids and others) and dietary fiber. Mankai is particularly rich in protein at approximately 45% in dry powder form and has a balance of amino acids as good as that of whey protein or soybean protein. Its digestion and absorption efficiency is higher than existing mainstream protein ingredients, enabling its efficient use in the body. It also has the advantages of being gluten and cholesterol free, and non-allergenic.

(3) A wide range of applications

With its neutral taste, flavor and texture (similar to matcha powdered green tea) and high water dispersibility, Mankai (dry powder) is ready to use in a multitude of food applications.

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