COPENHAGEN, DENMARK – Novozymes has developed a fungus that enables production of malic acid from renewable raw materials instead of oil. The food and beverage industry uses malic acid as a flavor enhancer, and it also may be converted into other chemical derivatives used for a variety of plastic, polymer and resin products.

Novozymes seeks partners interested in using the technology to produce and commercialize malic acid and derivatives. Malic acid occurs naturally in fruits and many vegetables. The food and beverage industry adds malic acid to enhance the sour flavor in products such as jellies, jams, juices and soft drinks.

“This is our first biochemical building block and a major milestone towards building a biochemical industry together with partners,” said Thomas Videbaek, executive vice-president of Denmark-based Novozymes. “Oil-based products are all around us, and biochemicals produced from renewable raw materials meet a global need for sustainable alternatives. This need is growing due to concerns about crude oil scarcity and price fluctuations.”

The global market for malic acid has a value of $130 million per year and a growth rate of 4% per year, according to Novozymes.