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Asian Buyer Abandons American Corn ...
Japanese Snack Company Switches Sweeteners

(12 June - Cropchoice News) -- Citing concerns about consumer rejection of biotech products, one of Japan's leading snack makers has announced it will stop using corn sweeteners. Bourbon Corporation, with $850 million in 1999 sales, said on Friday that it will move to cane sugar and potato-based sweeteners for its biscuits and confection products.

The vast majority - 82% - of Japanese consumers view the trend toward biotech food negatively, according to a report released on Friday by market consulting company Angus Reid. According to Reuters, Bourbon would not reveal how much the switch will cost; but says that it will not pass any costs on to consumers. The company plans to use domestic potato sources.

Starting in April 2001, food products containing biotech ingredients must be labeled in Japan.

Bourbon is the leader of the pack in the Japanese sweets market, with rapid sales growth last year while other confection companies stumbled.

Farm groups concerned about the impact of biotech on markets, like the American Corn Growers Association (ACGA), may find the Bourbon Corporation switch alarming; but not surprising. ACGA is calling strongly on farmers to follow strict segregation practices to preserve markets. According to ACGA head Gary Goldberg, with increased demand for non-GMO products, "segregation of GMO from non-GMO becomes paramount. As the growing likelihood that on-farm segregation will be required, agricultural producers must become prepared for this financial and logistical burden. The ACGA advises producers to contact their local elevators as soon as possible and find out the requirements for segregation, testing, certification and delivery this harvest."

SOURCE: Reuters, Wright Investors Service, ACGA