Sugar reduction is so high on the worldwide development agenda that everything from yoghurt to soft drinks is being stripped of as much of the soluble carbohydrate as possible.
In the UK, the efforts are partly being driven by consumer demand and partly by government, with Public Health England proposing last year that the sugar content of certain products be slashed by 20% by 2020 through reformulation, reducing product size and moving sales promotions from high-sugar products to lower-sugar alternatives.
Some of the chocolate industry’s biggest players have been particularly active in seeking out solutions: Nestlé and Cadbury have released a non-refined and a reduced sugar bar respectively over the past two months. Both companies took their time with R&D, utilising cutting-edge techniques in their efforts to banish the white stuff.
Cadbury, who said that cutting sugar was “the number two healthy eating driver for our consumers,” tested 35 different recipes before finally harnessing “leading-edge understanding of flavour technologies and material science.”
But while chocolate and general confectionery companies are consumed with jettisoning the sweet stuff, theirs is by no means the only area of food production to be doing so, with some interesting sugar reduction solutions gearing up globally.
And three of the most innovative hail from Israel.
1. DouxMatok: enhancing the perception of sugar
DouxMatok, an Israeli food tech company, announced last month that it has raised just over £18m in a funding round that will go towards large-scale production and sales of its ‘game changing’ sugar reduction solution.
This solution, which could be present in retail products as soon as the end of the year, is based around enhancing the sensation of sweetness from sugar, allowing for much less of it in foodstuffs.
This is done by binding sugar molecules to the mineral, silica, which naturally occurs in foods such as bananas and rice and is often used as an anti-caking agent. This binding process creates clusters of sugar which hit taste receptors in the mouth at higher concentrations, and for longer, increasing the brain’s perception of a sweet flavour.
The company says that even with a sugar reduction of up to 40-50%, the presence of its solution ensures that consumers won’t know the difference. It also claims to be the first company to have created such a solution and that it can be used in a range of different food products, including biscuits, cakes and spreads.
2. Better Juice: converting sugar
Better Juice, a sugar reduction start-up, revealed at the end of July that its tech will be applied to the Brazilian fruit juice giant Citrosuco’s orange juice within the next six months.
Fruit juice has been getting a fair bit of stick over the past few years due to its high sugar and calorie content. Better Juice’s method reduces the amount of sugar by converting it into dietary fibres and other non-digestible compounds without negatively impacting flavour – a process that is said to trim the sugar content in juice by 30%.
The company conducted trials on both apple and orange juice prior to the partnership with Citrosuco, with the approach relying on an enzymatic process with non-GMO microorganisms that ‘naturally transform’ the sugar.
“The sweetness is moderately reduced, but all the other taste components are not changed,” said Better Juice founder Dr Eran Blachinsky.
3. Gat Foods: fruit-based coatings
Gat Foods, a global supplier of technology-based fruit solutions, released its patent-pending FruitLift in March. The all-natural liquid, 90% of which is fruit components, is designed to be added to cereal as a replacement for white refined sugar.
Fruitlift, which successfully trialled in the UK in a pilot lab prior to being unleashed, comes in two forms. The first is a fruit base that’s added into the flour mix of puffed cereals and is offered in apple, apple-orange and apple-mango-citrus flavours. The other is sprayed as a coating onto finished cereal in apple, pineapple, citrus or lemon flavours.
“There are numerous cereals on the market with a fruit coating; however, they still contain relatively high amounts of refined sugar,” said Hila Bentman, International Brand Manager for Gat Foods, of the launch.
“Our fruit base is designed to permeate the entire expanded cereal as a complete substitute for the refined sugars that have historically been an inseparable part of RTE cereals.”