“Market Cap $8.9 B As of May 2014
At a Glance
- Industry: Food Processing
- Founded: 1925
- Country: Japan
- CEO: Masatoshi Ito
- Website: www.ajinomoto.co.jp
- Employees: 27,518
- Sales: $10.49 B
- Headquarters: Tokyo
#1231 Global 2000
- #923 in Sales
- #1676 in Profit
- #1697 in Assets
- #1208 in Market value
Ajinomoto Co., Inc. engages in the manufacture, distribution, and sale of food products, amino acids, and pharmaceuticals. Its operations are carried out through the following segments: Domestic Food Products, Overseas Food Products, Bioscience Products and Fine Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals, Business Tie-ups, and Other. The Domestic Food Products segment includes seasonings and processed foods, sweeteners and nutritional foods, frozen foods, and beverages. The Overseas Food Products segment provides consumer foods, which include flavor seasonings, soups, instant noodles; and umami seasonings for processed food manufacturers. The Bioscience Product and Fine Chemicals segment offers food-use amino acids, amino acids for pharmaceuticals and foods, sweeteners, pharmaceutical fine chemicals, and specialty chemicals. The Pharmaceuticals segment handles medical foods and pharmaceuticals. The Business Tie-Ups segment manufactures edible oils and coffee products. The Other segment ventures in the distribution, logistics, and various services. The company was founded by Saburosuke Suzuki II on May 20, 1909 and is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan.“
Lysine price-fixing (1990s)
Ajinomoto was a member of the Lysine price fixing cartel in the mid-1990s. Along with Kyowa Hakko Kogyo, and Sewon America Inc., Ajinomoto settled with the United States Department of Justice Antitrust Division in September 1996. Each firm and one executive from each pleaded guilty as part of a plea bargain to aid in further investigation. Their cooperation led to Archer Daniels Midland settling charges with the US Government in October 1996 for $100 million, a record antitrust fine at the time. The cartel had been able to raise Lysine prices 70% within their first six months of cooperation.
2000 to 2008
By mid-2000, Ajinomoto’s acquisition of NutraSweet and ‘Euro-Aspartame’ from Monsanto had been completed.
In early 2001, Ajinomoto was involved in a scandal in majority-Muslim Indonesia when it emerged that a pork-based enzyme had been used in its production of MSG.
In January 2006, the company bought the cooking sauce and condiments manufacturer Amoy Food from the French dairy product company Groupe Danone, which had run the division as the “Amoy Asian food unit”. At the time of the acquisition, Ajinomoto was the largest Japanese maker of seasonings.
Lawsuits against Asda (2008–2010)
In 2008, Ajinomoto sued British supermarket chain Asda, part of Wal-Mart, for a malicious falsehood action concerning its aspartame product when the chemical was listed as excluded from the chain’s product line along with other “nasties”. In July 2009, a British court found in favour of Asda. In June 2010, an appeal court reversed the decision, allowing Ajinomoto to pursue a case against Asda to protect aspartame’s reputation. At that time, Asda said that it would continue to use the term “no nasties” on its own-label products, however, the suit was settled out of court in 2011 after Asda removed references to aspartame from its packaging.
2010 to present
In late 2012, the Company sold its Calpis beverage unit to Asahi Breweries for US$1.5 billion.
In 2013, the Company acquired the contract manufacturing organization Althea Technologies for US$175 million in a bid to expand biopharmaceutical manufacturing in the United States.”
*Information from Forbes.com and Ajinomoto.co.jp
**Video published on YouTube by “味の素KK公式チャンネル（AJINOMOTO OFFICIAL）“