History of 
Ajinomoto Europe & Africa

Two personalities stand out in the 110-year history of Ajinomoto.
The history of our group has its roots in Japan and Europe,
and has continued for more than 30 years in Africa as well.

Dr. Kikunae IkedaDiscover of Umami taste
Me. Saburosuke Suzuki IIFounder of Ajinomoto group

“I want to make Japanese people healthier and make their meals tastier. “

In 1888, the Suzuki family started a Chemical business extracting iodine from the seaweed that washed up on the shore. They began by producing saltpeter through the co-decomposition of potassium chloride and the saltpeter contained in iodine ash. Their business soon became one of the leading chemical companies in Japan.

Hayama Plant at the time of iodine production

“I want to bring “umami” seasoning to as many people as possible in Japan.”

In 1899, Dr. Kikunae Ikeda went to Leipzig, Germany to study chemistry. In Leipzig, he studied directly under Dr. Wilhelm Ostwald, who was later awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1909. Without Dr. Ikeda’s study in Germany, Ajinomoto would not have been born. After returning to Japan, Dr. Ikeda continued his research, and in 1908, he discovered glutamic acid to be the source of the savory taste. He named this “umami” and designated it as the fifth of the five basic taste flavours.
In recognition of this achievement, Ikeda was officially selected as one of the “Top Japanese Great Inventors” by the Japanese Patent Office

The history of Ajinomoto began with this passion of two Japanese gentlemen.


The beginning of the Ajinomoto Group

Ajinomoto Co. was established by launching the world’s first umami seasoning: AJI-NO-MOTO®, by Saburosuke Suzuki, founder of the Ajinomoto Group.

France is the first country outside of Japan to patent AJI-NO-MOTO®

at the time of its launch

1st export of AJINOMOTO® to Europe

The 1st export of AJINOMOTO® to Europe was to Switzerland


Conquering the European Market

Mr. Domen, as the president of Ajinomoto, went to Europe for the first time.
He actively visited major food manufacturers and introduced AJINOMOTO®.


Establishment of a representative office in Paris, France


The start of a pharmaceutical business

The Ajinomoto Group started various amino acid businesses for pharmaceuticals


Establishment of Deutsche Ajinomoto G.m.b.H.

Established in Hamburg, Germany, later to become the current Hamburg sales branch office of Ajinomoto Foods Europe S.A.S.


Establishment of Eurolysine S.A.

Joint venture with Orsan S.A., Lafarge Group in France.
(Divested in 2021) The market for amino acids for animal nutrition increased mainly in Europe at that time.


Business Partnership with Cie. Gervais Danone

Ajinomoto and Cie. Gervais Danone of France, the largest dairy company in Europe, signed an agreement to establish a joint venture for the production and sale of dairy products in Japan. The partnership continued until 2007.


Establishment of Ajinomoto Osteuropa –
Handelsgesellschaft m.b.H.

Ajinomoto Osteuropa – Handelsgesellschaft m.b.H. was established in Austria to develop sales in Eastern European countries. (Closed in 1997)


“Legion of Honor” Award

The grandson of the company’s founder, Saburosuke Suzuki IV, former chairman of the company, was awarded the Legion of Honor which is the highest French decoration and one of the most famous in the world, by the French government.


Acquisition of S.A. OmniChem N.V., Belguim

S.A. OmniChem N.V., Belguim was acquired by the Ajinomoto Group and became S.A. Ajinomoto OmniChem N.V..


Establishment of West African Seasoning Co., Ltd.

West African Seasoning Co., Ltd. was created in Lagos, Nigeria (Current Ajinomoto Foods Nigeria Ltd.)


The establishment of Ajinomoto Poland Sp.z.o.o.

Ajinomoto Poland Sp.z.o.o. was established in Warsaw, Poland and started instant noodle businesses for European markets.


Establishment of Ajinomoto Europe S.A.S

Ajinotmoto Europe S.A.S. was established in Paris, France as a regional headquarters


Establishment of Ajinomoto Foods Europe S.A.S

Paris & Nesle, France


Establishment of OOO”AJINOMOTO”

Moscow, Russia


Establishment of Ajinomoto Istanbul Foods Sales Ltd.

Istanbul, Turkey

Establishment of Ajinomoto Foods Egypt S.A.E.

Cairo, Egypt

Establishment of Ajinomoto Afrique de l’Ouest S.A.

Abidjan, Ivory Coast (Closed in 2021)


Acquisition of Örgen Gıda Sanayi ve Ticaret A.Ş.,
and Kükre Gıda A.Ş.Turkey

Acquisition of Labeyrie Traiteur Surgeles S.A.S., France

Labeyrie Traiteur Surgeles S.A.S. in France was acquired, and it became Ajiomoto Frozen Foods France S.A.S.

Capital participation in Agro2Agri SL., Spain


Integration of 3 Turkish firms

Ajinomoto Istanbul Foods Sales Ltd., Örgen Gıda Sanayi ve Ticaret A.Ş. and Kükre Gıda A.Ş. were integrated and became Ajinomoto Istanbul Food Industry and Trade Ltd.

  • 1909
    The beginning of the 
    Ajinomoto Group
  • 1949
    The 1st export of 
    AJINOMOTO® to Europe
  • 1952
    Conquering the 
    European Market
  • 1954
    Establishment of a 
    representative office 
    in Paris, France
  • 1956
    The start of 
    a pharmaceutical businesses
  • 1961
    Establishment of Deutsche 
    Ajinomoto G.m.b.H.
  • 1974
    Establishment of 
    Eurolysine S.A.
  • 1980
    Business Partnership 
    with Cie. Gervais Danone
  • 1984
    Establishment of 
    Ajinomoto Osteuropa – 
    Handelsgesellschaft m.b.H.
  • 1988
    “Legion of Honor” Award
  • 1989
    Acquisition of S.A. 
    OmniChem N.V., Belguim
  • 1991
    Establishment of West 
    African Seasoning Co., Ltd.
  • 1999
    The establishment of 
    Ajinomoto Poland Sp.z.o.o.
  • 2002
    Establishment of 
    Ajinomoto Europe S.A.S
  • 2003
    Establishment of 
    Ajinomoto Foods Europe 
  • 2004
    Establishment of 
  • 2011
    Establishment of 
    Ajinomoto Istanbul Foods 
    Sales Ltd. 
    Establishment of 
    Ajinomoto Foods 
    Egypt S.A.E. 
    Establishment of 
    Ajinomoto Afrique 
    de l’Ouest S.A.
  • 2017
    Acquisition of Örgen Gıda 
    Sanayi ve Ticaret A.Ş., and 
    Kükre Gıda A.Ş.. 
    Acquisition of Labeyrie 
    Traiteur Surgeles S.A.S. 
    Capital participation in 
    Agro2Agri SL.,Spain
  • 2018
    Integration of 3 Turkish firms

Umami discovery history

AMBITION – Umami discovery history