Tate & Lyle searches for modern-day sugar cube



The British maker of sugar and artificial sweetener, Tate & Lyle (Dusseldorf: 408414.DU - news) , is to launch a dotcom-style venture capital fund to try to discover a new generation of ingredients that could revolutionise food.

The company is to put £30m into Tate & Lyle Ventures II, which will launch in the new year and run for eight years.

The venture will be run by healthcare investor Simon Barnes and analyst David Atkinson.

The chief executive of Tate & Lyle, Javed Ahmed, has given the fund a remit to invest in new businesses around the world that are working on food science and technologies that could help the company to grow its specialist food ingredients division.

Mr Ahmed believes there are major growth opportunities for the company through making food healthier, improving convenience, and targeting emerging markets.

The origins of Tate & Lyle date back to Henry Tate buying the rights to the technology to make sugar cubes in 1875.

The company is now searching for the technology that can create the 21st-century equivalents of the sugar cube.

It has opened a Commercial and Food Innovation Centre in Chicago for customers and also launched a new ingredient called Soda-Lo that can reduce salt content in foods by up to 50pc.

The venture fund follows a similar initiative from Tate & Lyle that was launched in 2006.

This had a narrower remit and only explored technologies in the US and western Europe (Chicago Options: ^REURUSD - news) .

Alongside the launch of the fund, Tate & Lyle reported a 28pc fall in pre-tax profits for the year to September 30.

The fall was caused by the cost of re-opening a sucralose plant in Alabama earlier this year and tough trading conditions in Europe. Sales rose 7pc to £1.6bn.