Sweegen is ramping up its efforts to reduce sugar across F&B applications while simultaneously tapping into the benefits of using antioxidants and bitter blocking technology.
Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst, Casey McCormick, vice president of global innovation at Sweegen, says product developers can find a broad range of solutions in Sweegen’s nature-based sweetener systems as brands elevate better-for-you foods.
The company’s robust nature-based sweetener systems can help brands replace up to 100% sugar, adopt clean ingredients like stevia, and boost nutrition with powerful antioxidants, such as ergothioneine from vertical integration partner, Blue California.
The power of antioxidants
Ergothioneine is a super antioxidant characterized by renowned scientist Bruce Ames as a “longevity vitamin”. Sweegen believes more consumers and Millennials are searching for supplemental nutrition to support their quest for longevity and healthy aging.
The company is vertically integrated, enabling it to work closely with ingredient specialist Blue California which makes high-purity ErgoActive ergothioneine. ErgoActive is the only sustainable, commercially available source of ergothioneine that does not rely on chemical synthesis or extraction from mushrooms.
Aging is associated with oxidative stress. It impacts many areas of health, including longevity, cognition, cardiovascular health, skin vitality and bone health. In addition to ErgoActive ergothioneine, Blue California offers several key ingredients proven to combat oxidative stress, such as BC-DHQTM Taxifolin (dihydroquercetin), coenzyme Q10 and vitamin K2.
“Ergothioneine is an antioxidant found in mushrooms, beans and a few other sources that have been associated with potential cognitive, immune, prostate and cardiovascular health benefits. Ergothioneine is concentrated in mitochondria, suggesting it protects DNA from oxidative damage,” says McCormick.
A recent in vitro study demonstrated that ErgoActive ergothioneine preserved telomere length and reduced the rate of telomere shortening under oxidative stress, suggesting ergothioneine may be beneficial for healthy aging.
Bitter blocking technology advances
Meanwhile, Sweegen’s bitter blocking technology helps to mitigate off-tastes when formulating active ingredients into foods and beverages.
According to the company, bitter blockers are especially applicable in energy drinks and dark chocolate confectionery applications.
Consumers enjoy getting their antioxidants from dark chocolate but could do without the bitterants, Sweegen highlights.
Wellness beverages and energy drinks made with active ingredients, such as antioxidants, also impart bitterness.
Bitter blocking flavors reduce the taste of bitterants and other functional ingredients that arise when you create health and wellness products and specifically when reducing sugar.
In similar developments, Blue California teamed up with biotech innovator Conagen to file a patent for a nature-based bitter blocker technology.
Brazilian flavor house Duas Rodas also launched Bitter Block, a natural aroma that rounds out flavors and synergistically eliminates bitter notes in drinks, such as caffeine supplements.
Combatting bitter off-notes has been a long held challenge in the sports nutrition arena. Arla Foods Ingredients previously debuted Lacprodan HYDRO.PowerPro, a whey protein hydrolysate that is 50% less bitter than comparable products with a similar degree of hydrolysis of 21 to 27%.
Consumers turn to functionalism
McCormick points to an Innova Market Insights report from a survey about health and nutrition, where “71% of consumers from an average of ten countries choose products that positively boost their nutrition or benefit how their body functions, e.g., high in protein superfoods, etc.”
When commenting on opportunities for wellness claims in NPD, he says that functional foods and beverages are on the rise and have become a part of the consumer trend to boost nutrition as an approach to healthy eating.
“Functional RTD beverages appear to be the frontrunner for the most opportunities for brands,” McCormick highlights. “Consumers are turning to functionalism for a nutritional edge in their on-the-go drinks.”
“Sweegen can replace up to 100% sugar in beverages using our nature-based sweetener systems and Signature stevia sweeteners. Add in the antioxidants and a natural trending flavor for a consumer-winning product.”
Sugar reduction is a priority for consumers globally. McCormick explains that this is reflected in a move tipped as “reductionism”, one of the key overarching approaches to healthy eating.
“Innova Market Insights reported from a survey about health and nutrition that 73% of consumers from an average of 10 countries try to limit or reduce products/ingredients that are “bad” for them, such as sugar, salt and fat.”
Investing in wellness
According to McCormick, Sweegen is setting itself apart by investing in stevia technology and looking to other natural sweetener solutions such as thaumatin and brazzein.
“Replacing sugar up to 100% requires more than just an alternative sweetener,” he flags. “Sweegen has invested in a bitter blocking technology to mitigate bitterness in favorite foods and beverages.”
“For example, in confectionery, consumers enjoy eating dark chocolate and supplementing their diet with its antioxidants, but they find the bitterness off-putting. We’ve solved this problem with our bitter blocking technology,” McCormick outlines.
Earlier this month, McCormick shared insights on the wellness food trend that continues to gather speed.
“We’re introducing more clean ingredients for sugar reduction by offering a robust portfolio of nature-based sweetener systems and broadening our signature stevia portfolio to inspire great-tasting dairy, confectionery, beverages, baked goods, snacks and sports nutrition products,” shares McCormick.
By Elizabeth Green
Schumacher will replace Alan Jope, who announced his decision to retire last September, less than a year after a failed attempt by Unilever to buy GlaxoSmithKline’s consumer healthcare business and just months after activist investor Nelson Peltz joined the company’s board.
Globally, plant-based ice creams have doubled their share of the market over the last five years, according to Tetra Pack. Pea protein and coconut milk are leading the way, but Tetra Pak cites data showing that oat-based ice cream launches have doubled in the previous year.
A myriad of so-called eco-labels are being rolled out across various F&B products, but with no gold standard or strict rules governing precisely what the logos mean and what methodology is behind them, concerns are growing that they will confuse consumers and ultimately be counterproductive.