By leveraging the ability to produce amino acids and other products that draw on its leading-edge bioscience and fine chemical technologies, the ability to promptly respond to regulations, and the ability to provide comprehensive services, the Ajinomoto Group offers a diverse range of distinctive materials, pharmaceutical ingredients, and technologies to Companies such as pharmaceutical and cosmetics & toiletries around the world. The electronic materials business helps improve the performance of PCs, tablets, and other smart devices.
Going forward, the Group will improve the quality of life for consumers and offer support for more comfortable lifestyles by applying the expertise in the functions and usefulness of amino acids, as well as the ability to discover new applications for those functions, to develop “Foods with Functional Claims” and amino acid supplements.
Progress in research into uses for amino acids led the Ajinomoto Group to begin manufacturing essential amino acid crystals and supplying them as raw materials for infusions in the 1950s, marking the start of this business. The Group then began supplying raw materials for foods for people with illnesses, and expanded its business into enteral nutrition and other products in the field of clinical nutrition. In the 1980s, the Group began local production in the United States, and also stepped up manufacturing in Japan and other countries.
Also in the 1980s, the Group created Japan’s first serum-free culture medium, and began sales of animal cell culture media. In 2012, we established Ajinomoto Genexine Co., Ltd., a joint venture with Genexine Co., Ltd. of South Korea, to conduct product development for global customers.
As a result of recent progress in the fields of biopharmaceuticals and regenerative medicine, the functions of amino acids are being utilized in a wider range of contexts.
Against this backdrop, in 2016 we developed StemFit® cell culture medium for iPS and ES cells, which are attracting attention in the field of regenerative medicine. In 2017, we also established a joint venture with Kohjin Bio Co., Ltd. to facilitate expansion into growth areas.
The bio-pharma service business provides manufacturing and development services for pharmaceutical intermediates and active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) to pharmaceutical companies. It is a field in which the Ajinomoto Group can utilize the fermentation and synthesis technologies it has honed through the manufacture of amino acids and nucleotides. Based on these technologies, the Group processed amino acids to add value as pharmaceutical intermediates, and we started this business in the 1980s with the development of a contract business for amino acid derivatives. Later in the 1980s, the Group acquired S.A. OmniChem N.V. of Belgium and we have since been providing manufacturing services for pharmaceutical intermediates, APIs and high-potency APIs (HPAPIs), mainly for customers in the United States and Europe.
In recent years, expectations have been rising for growth of the markets for the biopharmaceuticals, oligonucleotide drugs and antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs), which are being developed as new modalities.
Under these conditions, the Ajinomoto Group acquired Althea Technologies, Inc., a U.S.-based biopharmaceuticals contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO). We are seeking to generate synergies with its proprietary CORYNEX®・TALAMAX® peptides/proteins production technologies. In addition, we have begun to develop and contract manufacturing service for ADC using its proprietary protein-linking technology, AJICAP®.
Ajinomoto OmniChem is also expanding its manufacturing capacity for high-active active ingredients (HPAPIs) and its capability using new technologies such as biocatalysts and continuous-flow manufacturing. In this way, Ajinomoto OmniChem is developing a wide range of businesses from clinical-developed products to commercial manufacturing.
The Group is also conducting business in the field of oligonucleotide drugs using its proprietary AJIPHASE® manufacturing technology for oligonucleotides, their principal component. In 2016, the Group acquired GeneDesign, Inc., a leading Japanese CDMO for oligonucleotides, and we intend to strengthen our operations in this field.
Since 2018, the Group has built a global one-team service supply system that uses the unified brand of ”Ajinomoto Bio-Pharma Services”. We will achieve continuous business growth by innovative proprietary technologies and generating synergies between services based on the technologies and capabilities possessed by each global base.
In 1942, Ajinomoto Group established Nippon Specialty Oil Manufacturing Co., Inc. as a joint investment with Nippon Oil Co., later launching a flame retardant for plastics made from byproducts of the manufacturing process for AJI-NO-MOTO®.
Furthermore, in tandem with the development of AJI-NO-MOTO® manufacturing technology, the Group has used its chemical synthesis technology to develop functional materials such as curing agents for epoxy resin and adhesives,and release paper.
In the 1990s, we launched Ajinomoto Build-Up Film (ABF), an interlayer insulating material used for semiconductor package substrates.
Today, ABF and a wide range of other functional materials are manufactured and sold through Group company Ajinomoto Fine-Techno Co., Inc.
Sales of ABF are steadily growing as demand for CPUs used for PCs and server for data centers increases. In 2016, with the aim of further expanding the business, Ajinomoto Fine-Techno USA Corporation was established in Silicon Valley to better gather information essential to strengthening sales.
To maintain our competitive advantage in the amino acids business, we decided in the 1990s to expand from the bulk business to encompass retail. Having shipped bulk products for health-related businesses, we focused on health supplements and entered the business with the launch of amino VITAL® PRO, a powdered supplement for athletes. Since then, we have broadened our target to include general consumers and scaled up product development. We have also expanded overseas, with sales currently in various countries including South Korea, Singapore, Russia and Brazil.
In addition to powdered products, our wide lineup includes protein products and jelly products.
In the sports supplement market, sales of powdered, protein and jelly products are all growing. Efforts to expand the market include the promotion of amino VITAL® PRO as well as the launch of new products tailored to sports demand such as powdered amino VITAL® GOLD and protein product amino VITAL® Amino Protein.
To contribute to the conditioning and performance of athletes worldwide, in 2019 we conducted our first product renewal for amino VITAL® PRO since the business began, based on the latest sports nutrition science.
To maintain our competitive advantage in the amino acids business, we also expanded from bulk to retail in the personal care products market in the 1990s. We started the business with the rollout of our own cosmetics brand, JINO®, available only by mail order.
In the area of fundamental foods, in 2005 the Group launched Glyna®, a supplement that contains the amino acid glycine, and in 2013 launched Amino Aile®, which helps seniors live longer and healthier lives.
In 2015, the labeling system for food with functional claims (FFC) was introduced and we enhanced our FFC lineup with the launches of Capsi EX®, a supplement to improve base metabolism, and Mai Asa Histidine®, a supplement that reduces fatigue and promotes alertness, in addition to mainstay products Glyna® and Amino Aile®.
Since 2017, we have been working to strengthen sales of conventional food products through our direct marketing channel as the third pillar of our operations after personal care products and fundamental foods.
In the direct marketing industry in Japan, both the health foods and personal care products categories are steadily growing. On the other hand, competition is intensifying, so we are differentiating our products based on the Ajinomoto Group’s unique specialty in areas such as manufacturing methods and evidence.
The Ajinomoto Group entered the business with the launches of Ajidew® humectants in 1971 and Amisoft® surfactants in 1972. The base material for these products is monosodium glutamate (MSG) made with a fermentation method that uses plant-based raw materials. Since then, those products have been used as ingredients in a wide range of cosmetics and toiletries that follow the concept of being environmentally friendly and mild to skin, thus opening up the new field of amino acid-based personal care ingredients.
Thereafter, we launched personal care ingredients made from various amino acids as base materials. Today we also conduct OEM production of personal care products through AJINOMOTO HEALTHY SUPPLY CO., INC.
In recent years, our concept of environmentally friendly ingredients has gained acceptance worldwide, and sales are growing steadily in Japan and overseas.With regard to global supply, in addition to existing production in Brazil, in 2014 we began production in Indonesia.
To contribute to reduced impact on the global environment and comfortable lifestyles for consumers, we will continue to make investments to increase production of amino acid-based surfactants, for which demand is expected to grow further.