Approximately 450 tons of caffeine are required annually in the United States for addition to beverages and for pharmaceutical use. This need is partially met by the decaf-feination of coffee (21). The methylation of theobromine obtained by extraction of cocoa hulls provides part of the remainder of the requirements. Dimethyl sulfate, diazo-methane, and methyl iodide can be used to prepare caffeine from xanthine or any of the related monomethyl- or dimethylxanthines (22). Patented synthetic processes are also based on classical organochemical ring closure techniques and do not require the availability of xanthines as starting materials.
In 1995 the United States imported about 1000 tons of caffeine. About 500 tons came from China. Domestic synthetic caffeine was list-priced at $7.25/lb. The product from China was approximately $4.50/lb (23).
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