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JV formed to produce astaxanthin from fermented carb source

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

London based Tate & Lyle PLC, a world leader in carbohydrate ingredients, and IGENE Biotechnology, Inc (Igene) have entered into a 50:50 joint venture to produce AstaXin(R), a natural source of the pigment astaxanthin, which is widely used in the aquaculture industry.

Astaxanthin is a naturally occurring nutrient that is essential to impart the characteristic red color to farmed fish. Most available astaxanthin is produced via a chemical route, but AstaXin(R) is a natural product produced by the fermentation of carbohydrates. AstaXin(R) contains 8,000 parts per million of astaxanthin and has been approved as a feed ingredient in Chile, Canada, the United States and Japan. The process to obtain approval in Europe is underway.

AstaXin(R) will be produced utilizing Tate & Lyle's world-leading fermentation capability together with unique technology developed by Igene. Part of Tate & Lyle's existing Selby citric acid facility will be modified to include the production of 1,500 tons per annum of this new product. Tate & Lyle's investment of GBP 15m ($25m) includes certain of its Selby assets currently used in citric acid production. Commercial production is expected to commence in the calendar year 2004.

"This move is in line with our strategy to grow Tate & Lyle's range of valued added carbohydrate-based ingredients and to build on our world-leading fermentation capability," Simon Gifford, Tate & Lyle Acting Chief Executive said. "The market for this product is enjoying exciting growth. Customers, who are mainly involved in the production of farm-raised fish such as salmon and trout, are seeking alternatives to the synthetic products currently available. All major producers have approved the use of AstaXin(R)."

"We have been improving our strain and process continually over the past number of years. This is the ideal moment to exploit this technology with the assistance of Tate & Lyle's experienced manufacturing staff," said Michael Kimelman, Chairman of Igene.

Tate & Lyle is a world leader in carbohydrate ingredients. Its core competence is to take basic carbohydrates -- corn, wheat or sugar -- and add value to these raw materials through technology. Its product portfolio includes cereal sweeteners, starches, sugars and citric acid, with wide applications in the food, beverage, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, paper, packaging and building industries.

With headquarters in London, the Group has 8,500 employees and 50 plants in 24 countries. Sales in the 53 weeks to March 31, 2002 totaled GBP 3.9 billion.

Igene has been specializing in research to adapt naturally found chemicals to productive applications. It is headquartered in Columbia, Maryland.

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