Fiber foods

Launch of The Supplant Company’s fiber-based sugar in the United States

When it comes to growing major crops like corn, rice, wheat and sugar cane, there is often an abundance of raw materials left after harvest. Called agricultural side streams, these materials include things like husks, leaves, cobs, and stems. Traditionally, industrial agricultural side streams haven’t been much use, but food waste recycling and a focus on a circular economy have garnered a lot of attention in recent years. Today, more and more food tech companies are recycling food waste and agricultural by-products to create something new. Such a company is The Supplant Company.

Supplant was founded in 2017 by Dr. Tom Simmons, Ph.D. in plant science. The company recycles agricultural side streams and uses the fibers from these materials to create its sugar. Stems, stalks, and cobs—parts of the plant that would otherwise go to waste—are the main ingredients of sugar.

In a phone call late last week, Simmons said enzymes produced by fungi are used to break down the long, complex sugar chains found in fibrous materials. From there, the shortened chains can be more easily converted into sugar.

Regular white cane sugar does not contain fiber and has a high glycemic index, which causes blood sugar spikes. Since Supplant’s sugar is made from a fiber base, it has a lower glycemic index than cane sugar, contains fewer calories and is also prebiotic, according to the company. Sugar obviously brings sweetness, but it can also contribute to the texture of certain foods, such as pastries for example. The Supplant company said its sugar behaves similarly to cane sugar in cooking, cooking and caramelizing.

Since there are so many surplus raw materials left over from industrial agricultural operations, companies other than Supplant are also finding uses for side streams. Organic Comet also recycles agricultural waste like stems and pods to create sweeteners and supplements. Cocoboard uses agricultural waste in Asia, including coconut shells, peanut shells and rice straw, to create construction panels. Nestle launched a product this year called Nescafé Nativ Cascara, a soft drink that uses the coffee berries surrounding the coffee bean that is usually discarded.

On Friday, June 18, Supplant launched its fiber-based sugar in the United States in partnership with chef Thomas Keller. The sugar was used to make vanilla ice cream and chocolate chips, and was offered at Keller’s restaurants in California and New York over the weekend. Supplant is currently working with consumer brands, restaurants and chefs to expand its product into the US market.