Senomyx plans to sell directly to flavor companies
by Jeff Gelski
SAN DIEGO — Senomyx, Inc., a company involved in proprietary taste science technologies, is initiating a new strategy that involves selling certain of its flavor ingredients directly to flavor companies for re-sale to food and beverage companies. The strategy is designed to move the company into profitability. No longer will Senomyx rely solely on licensing collaborations for commercialization.
“The direct sales strategy complements our existing collaborations, which are based on exclusive or co-exclusive commercialization licenses with our partners, who pay royalties to Senomyx,” said Kent Snyder, chief executive officer of San Diego-based Senomyx. “The new strategy is expected to allow Senomyx to have a greater role in the commercialization process and realize more value from our discoveries. Having numerous flavor companies marketing our flavor ingredients is expected to enable deeper and broader penetration of the food and beverage industry.”
At the end of 2012, Senomyx was the owner or exclusive licensee of 354 issued patents. Senomyx had total revenues of $31.3 million in 2012, which compared with $31.6 million in 2011. The company expects 2013 total revenues of $31 million to $34 million and a net loss of $8 million to $10 million.
“2013 should prove to be a transitional year for Senomyx as we implement our direct sales strategy,” said Tony Rogers, senior vice-president and chief financial officer. “While direct sales are not expected to yield significant results in 2013, our goal is for direct sales to be a key driver for meaningful commercial revenues in future years.”
John Poyhonen, president and chief operating officer of Senomyx, said in a March 15 earnings conference call that the company’s target audience is highly concentrated in the top-end flavor companies. The top 10 companies account for more than 75% of the global flavor and fragrance businesses, he said.
Mr. Snyder in the March 15 call said Senomyx identified three critical factors in the new strategy.
For one, the company will need to build a product pipeline. Senomyx has reacquired rights to certain flavor ingredients. The company’s S9632 sucrose modifier will be for use in non-alcoholic and powdered beverages.
Senomyx said it also may decide to directly commercialize its S6821 bitter blocker and several of its savory flavor ingredients. Mr. Poyhonen said the company’s S5456 and S9229 savory flavor ingredients have been shown to mimic the temporal profile of monosodium glutamate (MSG) and thus may be used to replace or reduce MSG in foods and beverages.
The second factor is establishing relationships for third-party manufacturing and supply chain logistics. Mr. Poyhonen said a contract manufacturer will supply the Senomyx flavor ingredients.
The third factor is developing what Mr. Snyder called “demand creation capabilities.”
“This will be handled by an expanded Senomyx commercial organization that will have a number of capabilities, including sales and marketing, product applications, customer service and order placement,” he said. “Senomyx will focus our commercial efforts initially on the U.S. headquarters of flavor companies. We anticipate that global flavor companies and other third parties will support rest-of-the-world penetration.”
Senomyx already has collaborated with Firmenich, a privately-owned company based in Geneva and globally involved in the perfume and flavor business. Firmenich is commercializing Senomyx’s S6973 sweet taste modifier in the Americas, Southeast Asia, Africa and Australia. The S6973 modifier has been shown to restore a desired taste profile in foods and selected beverages in which sucrose has been reduced.
Firmenich also has exclusive rights to commercialize S9632, a sucrose modifier, for food applications and co-exclusive rights with Senomyx for the use of S9632 in powdered beverages. Firmenich is commercializing Senomyx’s S2383 sweet taste modifier for use in foods and beverages. The modifier has been shown to restore the desired taste profile of products in which the high-intensity sweetener sucralose has been reduced.