“Annual sales of current cooling compounds are in the $400 million range,” said Senomyx president, CEO and board member Kent Snyder during the company’s announcement of a cooling agent collaboration with Firmenich. “We estimate the opportunity of flavor systems incorporating approved cooling agents may be three to four times this size.”
Under the three-year deal, Senomyx will conduct its taste receptor discovery activities under its Cool Flavor banner and make available any of the resulting (viable) cooling agents to Firmenich, exclusively. Firmenich will pay research fees and additional payments when undisclosed milestones are met. This, according to Snyder, could top $3.5 million. Firmenich will address manufacturing, marketing and sales of any cooling flavor systems. While the research timeline has been set, Snyder said it was too early to speculate on a commercial timeline.
“Upon commercialization,” Snyder noted, “Senomyx will receive royalty payments based on sales of products containing new flavor ingredients developed under the agreement. This allows us to optimize the commercial potential of our cooling agents by collecting royalties on the sales of the flavor systems, rather than just the cooling compounds.”
The Cool Flavor program, says Snyder, is intended to give Firmenich a distinct advantage in this category. “Many [existing cooling] agents have deficiencies that restrict their utility, such as weak cooling characteristics, bitter off taste, burning and tingling sensations, unwanted odor, limited solubility, and non-proprietary status.
“We believe that greater solubility, stability in high temperatures and a wide pH range could increase the number of applications for the cooling agents and may expand Firmenich’s product offerings and market share.”
During his comments, Snyder made specific note that Firmenich has strong competencies in flavor and fragrance, but did not specify if the companies are exploring fragrance-side applications. Senomyx currently runs a number of flavor programs for sweet, salt and savory enhancers, as well as bitter blockers. Its partners in the food, beverage and ingredient world include Ajinomoto and the Coca-Cola Co.