Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
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Published: March 2010
World MSG capacity has rapidly expanded in recent years. World production and consumption of MSG have also recently increased significantly. The primary worldwide use of MSG is as a flavor enhancer in food. MSG functions as a basic flavor, referred to as umami in Japan. Virtually all MSG is consumed in the production of foods. A negligible amount of MSG is used in animal feeds. The recent rapid increases in world production and consumption of MSG are related to rapid increases in Chinese production and consumption. Currently, China is the world’s largest MSG producing and consuming country. Chinese production and consumption accounted for approximately 73% and 67% of world production and consumption in 2009, respectively. In recent years, Chinese exports of MSG have also been expanding rapidly. In 2006, China became the world’s largest MSG exporting country. Chinese exports accounted for approximately 37% of the world’s MSG exports in 2009.The following pie chart shows world consumption of MSG:
Ajinomoto, the world’s largest MSG producer, operates wholly and partly owned plants in Japan, Brazil, Peru, the United States, France, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Ajinomoto accounts for approximately one-fourth of the world capacity for MSG.
MSG capacity is largely concentrated in Asia, where feedstocks and labor are abundant and inexpensive and where demand is highest. Asian production accounted for approximately 91% of world MSG production in 2009. In addition to China, Indonesia, Taiwan and Thailand are other major producing countries in Asia. Asian consumption is also the largest, accounting for approximately 89% of MSG world consumption in 2009. MSG consumption in Asia, excluding Japan, is expected to continue to increase during 2009–2014.
Chinese MSG capacity has increased rapidly in recent years. Overcapacity is expected.