PreScouter exclusive: Novel sugar replacement touts 80% sugar reduction

PreScouter exclusive: Novel sugar replacement touts 80% sugar reduction

By Vasambal Manikkam

In a press release published on 14 February 2019, Holista CollTech Ltd announced the end of the development phase of a new sugar reformulation, ready to be commercialized and launched in Malaysia in May of this year. Known as 80Less, the product is claimed to be 80% sweeter than table sugar. Dr. Rajen Manicka, the CEO of the company, claims that 1 gram of 80Less could replace 5 grams of sugar.

PreScouter had the chance to discuss this new product directly with Dr. Manicka. Here’s what we learned.

What is the product made of?

80Less is a proprietary blend of two types of sugars, both made from sugar cane: Sucrose (table sugar) and sucralose (artificial sugar).

What are the characteristics of 80Less?

With no unpleasant aftertaste, it is five times sweeter than traditional sugar, while still maintaining the same sensory properties as sugar. In addition, 80Less is also shelf stable in solid and liquid phase. The product is also available in two different grades: 80Less Standard (five times sweeter than sugar) and 80Less Premium (40 times sweeter than sugar).

We look forward to reviewing the data on shelf life testing and sensory properties from research studies that Dr. Manicka said are being conducted at different research institutions.

What are its target applications?

Dr. Manicka is confident that their new product could replace traditional sugar in nearly every application. This innovative solution is “designed to work well in enhancing flavor and sugar-like sweetness, preserve high-heat stability, and enhance the taste profile of food and beverages”. The product 80Less is heat stable and is therefore applicable to the manufacture of a range of baked goods, canned fruits, jams, and jellies. In addition, the product is stable for an extended period of time, having a long shelf life in acidic products, which could include carbonated soft drinks and other liquid products such as sauces, milk products, and processed fruit drinks. It is also stable in dry applications, such as beverage mixes. We look forward to reviewing the supporting data for this new sweetener. The CEO says the results may be available two months after the product is launched.

What about price?

Concerning the price, “on a gram for gram basis, it is comparable to sugar for replacement in direct pricing but gives significant savings as 80% reduction of warehouse space, shipping, and energy to melt sugar,” says Dr. Manicka.

What percentage of sucralose and sucrose is in the blend?

This is a company trade secret. However, Dr. Manicka did tell us that the amount of sucralose is in parts per million.

Can you say the product is low GI? If so, what types of studies have you conducted to say so, and is it suitable for diabetics?

Holista CollTech has a GI test pending with the University of Sydney and sensory testing with the Agency of Science, Technology and research (A*STAR) in Singapore.

What are the food safety plans that you have in place to develop this product?

The company followed and will comply with all international and export standards.

How do you prevent the aftertaste?

A proprietary process using pressure and speed of drying in manufacturing prevents an aftertaste.

How was this demonstrated/confirmed?

Many sensory studies have been done in Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, the Philippines, and the United States to confirm this.

What are the texture analysis profiles of the food products analyzed and with what sugar alternative did you compare it to?

Holista CollTech worked with specific companies and their product reformulations, but the company cannot share this until the products are launched in the next two months. Specifically, stevia, monk fruit, aspartame, and neotame were compared.

Where is the product being launched?

The product has been approved and will be launched in Malaysia, under Malaysia laws, which are very different from the rest of the world.

What was the main driving factor behind this innovation and targeting the Malaysian population first?

The product is made in Malaysia, so the company logically wanted to share it in the country of origin.

After Malaysia, where is your next target?

Holista CollTech is looking to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, where several countries are investigating the sugar tax. Next, they will look at North America and Australia / New Zealand.

What are your goals in the short term and long term?

Dr Manicka says the company wants to go regional and global, as sugar reduction is only going to get bigger as consumers are identifying sugar as the culprit in so many poor health outcomes. Governments are going to legislate more. Companies have to respond.

What about international trade?

Dr. Manicka stated that “no further approval is needed in Australia or anywhere in the world, as the two ingredients are fully approved worldwide.” However, with the extensive occurrence of food fraud in the world, it is crucial to have traceability data about the origin of the sucralose and the table sugar to ensure food safety is maintained throughout the food supply chain.

When asked about the origin of the sucralose, Dr. Manicka said:

The semi-finished product comes from China in compliance with safety standards and the final steps are completed here in Malaysia. We have ‘halal’ certification for this sucralose.”

All sugar innovations have pros and cons. What would you say are the main cons or limitations manufacturers would need to consider and address to start using 80Less in place of sugar or an artificial sweetener like aspartame or sucralose?

Dr. Manicka pointed to both the fact that 80Less contains sucralose that is not natural and the negative perception of sucralose. Product reformulation is another aspect manufacturers would need to consider as using 80% less sugar, means a decrease in the volume of the product. This will push manufacturers to explore new and innovative ways to compensate for a smaller product and satisfy consumer perception. Dr. Manicka mentioned that one company is using nitrogen gas to make the package seem fuller.

Part of the problem:

A 2017 report from the World Health Organization claims that a 20% tax could reduce consumption of sugar by close to 20%. This is anticipated to decrease the number of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, that are directly linked to sugar consumption.

Excessive consumption of sugar is a major contributor to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay. In the current food environment, it is very easy to consume too much sugar, especially from sugary drinks, and consumption is increasing in most countries, especially among children and adolescents. On average, a single sugary drink contains around 40 grams of free sugars — equivalent to approximately 10 teaspoons of table sugar.

People who consume two cans of soda a day or more have a 26% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than people who rarely consume sugary drinks. The number of people with diabetes has risen from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014. Apart from diabetes, obesity is also a major risk factor for heart diseases, cancers, and other diseases.

Part of the solution:

Governments can take a number of actions to improve availability and access to healthy foods and have a positive influence on the food people choose to consume. A major action for comprehensive programs aimed at reducing consumption of sugars is taxation of sugary drinks. Just as taxing tobacco helps to reduce tobacco use, taxing sugary drinks can help reduce consumption of sugars.

Holista CollTech Ltd (ASX : HCT ) is a research-driven biotech company listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. Their focus is creating solutions to the growing epidemic of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity by providing consumers with scientifically enhanced, engineered, and tested solutions. For more information, visit www.holistaco.com.

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