Today, the importance of sweeteners for product development cannot be overstated, but issues such as raw material supply and flavor have always constrained the development of sweeteners. Researchers have been working to break the bottleneck of sweetener development so that they can show more potential and value. Today, this Foodaily article takes a look at the latest developments in the field of natural sweeteners…

Allulose: the “rare sugar” with potential

Allulose is becoming another focus of the industry, it contains only 0.2 calories per gram, and its sweetness can reach 70% of sucrose, which is a rare sweetener and exists in small amounts in nature.

According to Japan’s Matsutani Chemical Industry Co., Ltd., allulose is scientifically known as “D-psicose”, a rare monosaccharide, one of about 50 kinds of sugars that exist in nature.

The definition of “rare sugar” varies in the scientific community. John C. Fry, Ph.D., head of Connect Consulting in Horsham, U.K., which provides consulting services on low-calorie and no-calorie sweeteners, says, “Obviously, rare sugars are not the dominant sugars in nature, but it also depends on how it is defined. Allulose is very low in calories, and not all rare sugars are that low in calories, which makes it a very promising sweetener.”

Public recognition has been the biggest driver of allulose’s development. The U.S. FDA announced in 2014 that allulose passed general safety approval (GRAS), and today suppliers of the product are actively promoting the sweetener’s use to the food industry.

Awareness of allulose is growing through conferences and seminars, and more and more companies are experimenting with this sweetener.

Since 2014, Tate & Lyle has worked with hundreds of health professionals to promote the health applications of allulose, and Dr. Sarah said, “We work closely with our customers and health professionals to help consumers understand product labels and understand the health benefits of allulose. We encourage our customers to add information about allulose to their labels, emphasizing the negligible low-calorie count of allulose and the fact that it does not have a significant impact on blood sugar.”

1+1>2: Working in synergy with other sweeteners

Dr. Fry noted that allulose can work synergistically with other high-intensity sweeteners, including steviol glycosides. To obtain a sweet taste, large amounts of allulose must be used. Most people don’t realize that regular sucrose is not actually a very good sweetener. This is not because sugar is bad, but because a lot of sugar needs to be added in order to achieve the desired sweetness, which results in a lot of calories.

If you use allulose in a recipe instead of 50% sucrose, this will reduce the sweetness by 15%. For many people, a 15% decrease in sweetness is imperceptible. However, if the substitution percentage exceeds 50%, then there will be a significant impact on sweetness. This is the time to use a high-intensity sweetener to get better results.

High-intensity sweeteners, such as stevia and rooibos extract, can significantly reduce the sugar content without affecting the taste. However, because these sweeteners are used in smaller amounts in products, they do not yield other functional benefits, such as weight or mouthfeel when applied to baked goods, and this is where allulose comes into play.

Dr. Scholl also noted, “Dolcia Prima allulose creates a great sweetness synergy with sucralose, while reducing calories, improving taste and extending the shelf life of sweetened baked goods.

Stevioside market competition is intensified by fermentation and amplification technology in the Repulse

Steviol glycosides are increasingly used in food and beverages, and Freedonia Market Research pointed out in its report on the U.S. natural alternative sweeteners market that the demand for steviol glycosides in the food industry was $42 million in 2016, accounting for 60% of the total demand; among them, the beverage industry accounted for 37% of the demand. Demand for steviol glycosides products in the U.S. food industry is expected to grow at a rate of about 10% per year, reaching $68 million by 2021, according to the data.

Dr. Fry said, “It would be unlikely to extract the corresponding sweeteners from natural stevia leaves or rooibos only by increasing the amount of cultivation because the concentration of sweeteners so extracted would be too low. After intensive research, we can get more stevia and rooibos extracts using fermentation amplification.”

The consumers in the hinterland need more low sugar options

As new sweeteners are increasingly developed, available, and approved for regulation, consumers and the food industry are taking sugar reduction more seriously.

But sugar isn’t going away, and we shouldn’t condemn it together. People always seem to think that sugar is the sole culprit of obesity and diabetes, but that’s not the case. The root cause is that people consume more energy than they need, and sugar is a component of that, but not the only cause. In other words, lowering sugar intake will not completely solve problems such as obesity or diabetes.

The survey notes that people like sweetness, but they are starting to look for new, more low-sugar options. The Food and Health Survey released by the International Food Information Council in Washington, D.C., in 2017 showed that 76 percent of respondents were trying to reduce their sugar intake.

Rabobank New York’s “Sweetness and Lite” report notes that shifting taste preferences, product innovation and government pressure have led to changes in global consumer perceptions of sugar. Fereday said that in addition to low-fat diets, consumers are starting to choose more low-sugar products because they believe sugar and refined carbohydrates are to blame for obesity.

The shift in consumer perception of sugar intake has become a global trend, which is a big deal for the sugar industry and must be given high priority. according to Freedonia, consumers are increasingly concerned about sugar intake in their daily diets, which will boost the development of sweetener alternatives. At the same time, consumers continue to focus on natural and clean labeling, so natural sweeteners are expected to grow at double-digit rates through 2021, with stevia accounting for a quarter of the demand.