Pepsi Partners With Senomyx to Research Salt Flavor Modifiers

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PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP) is partnering with Senomyx, an American biotechnology company, as the two parties plan to collaborate on Senomyx’s Salt Taste Program. Senomyx announced the new partnership on Wednesday via PR Newswire and explained that under the new agreement, Pepsi will provide research funding for the Salt Taste Program for 2014 and in return, earn non-exclusive rights to salt flavor modifiers discovered during the research funding period. Senomyx will also have the right to supply these flavor ingredients directly to Pepsi.

Senomyx is a company that uses proprietary taste science technologies to discover, develop, and commercialize novel flavor ingredients for the food and beverage industries, and, as highlighted by PR Newswire, it is currently working to identify flavors with modifying properties intended to restore the desired salty taste in products with reduced salt. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said time and time again that Americans consume too much salt, so now the biotech company is working to find a way to introduce new flavor modifiers that appeal to people’s salt tooth but don’t put their health at risk.

That kind of research is expensive, and that’s where Pepsi will come in. If Senomyx can come up with an alternative that gives food and beverages a salty taste but is actually devoid of the chemical itself, the biotech company could be in luck, and considering the fact that Pepsi now has non-exclusive rights to the modifiers, it could be, too. John Poyhonen, president and CEO of Senomyx, said in a statement, “We are pleased to establish this new type of research agreement, which provides research funding to Senomyx while retaining our ability to add potential new flavor offerings to our direct sales portfolio.”

There has been a great deal of news concerning Americans’ salt consumption recently, and a handful of biotech companies have been working to come up with healthful salt alternatives. Although one study earlier this month published in the American Journal of Hypertension found that current recommended salt guidelines may be too low, arguing that low levels of salt consumption could actually be linked with a greater risk of death, many health experts aren’t buying that, and that’s why there’s a continued push to come up with salt alternatives.

In many ways, Pepsi is the perfect partner for Senomyx: Not only is in charge of the world’s second-largest soda division, but it also is the world’s biggest salty snack maker, which means that finding a salt flavor modifier really is in the company’s best interest. Though Pepsi’s soda unit has been struggling as of late thanks to health-conscious consumers and a turn away from the sugary drinks, its snack business continues to thrive, and an introduction of more healthy ingredients could potentially facilitate even greater success.

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