From allulose to erythritol to xylitol, food manufacturers these days have an increasing number of table sugar alternatives to choose from, says The Supplant CompanyThe founder, Dr. Tom Simmons, a Cambridge University scholar who realized that his postdoctoral research on plant science could have some pretty interesting real-life applications.
But available substitutes are often expensive, difficult to scale, or lack all the properties we know and love about sucrose (browning, caramelization, etc.), said Simmons, who has filed a suite of patents around a technology that uses enzymes to break down polysaccharides. (long chain sugars) in the fibrous plant materials of corn cobs and wheat straw or oat husks into oligosaccharides and sugars, which are then combined to create what he calls “sugar from fibers”.
Works like a sugar, metabolized more like a prebiotic fiber?
Bumping sugars from fiber work like sucrose in food applications, from chocolate cakes, have about one-third the sweetness of sucrose and just under half the calories, and can be used to replace some or all sugar in a given application, depending on the level of sweetness you’re looking for, said Simmons, who has raised $26 million to date from investors including Coatue, EQT, Felicis, Khosla and Mantaray.
For nutrition labeling purposes, it contains 1.8 calories per gram and is classified as a sugar and a fiber, with the fiber portion of the blend meeting the FDA’s new definition of dietary fiber, said Simmons, which provides (initially) to increase the technology in the US market, where the company has already developed a GRAS determination (which it plans to send to the FDA) and has attracted the most interest and investment.
“It’s metabolized like fiber, and it reaches the large intestine where some passes through you and some is metabolized by gut bacteria, so it’s a prebiotic effect,”he told FoodNavigator-USA.
As for labelling, he said, the product could be described on the ingredient list as: “Fiber sugars”.
He added: “We’ve had discussions with the FDA, lawyers and regulatory consultants, and it’s an interesting time as the FDA rethinks all of this. [how some carbohydrates and sugars are labeled on the nutrition facts panel if they are metabolized differently than sucrose] because the reality is that not all sugars are created equal.
How are Supplant’s “Fiber Sugars” made?
The Supplant Company (formerly known as Cambridge Glycoscience) can use a variety of recycled raw materials or agricultural waste/side streams ranging from wheat straw and oat husks to corn cobs and dough. paper, which are primarily composed of cellulose and hemicellulose, says founder and CEO Dr. Tom Simmons, who has been accepted into the high profile Y Combinatoracceleration program in 2018.
Depending on the source material, this is then ground and pre-treated in some way (usually thermally) to “loosen it up” so Simmons’ enzymes can get to work, he says. These effectively chop the long chains of sugars into shorter chains of oligosaccharides and simpler sugars, which Supplant then combines.
The firm filed a suite of patents, says Simmons, but the “the strongest intellectual property is actually the composition of the ingredient itself; it is the specific composition that allows us for the first time to faithfully reproduce the properties of sucrose in food products.
10 grams of Supplant Sugars from fiber contains 18 calories (compared to 40 for regular table sugar), 10 grams of carbohydrates, 1.5 grams of fiber and 4.5 grams of sugar for nutrition labeling purposes, claims the company, which claims that sugar is also low-glycemic:
“A blood glucose study has shown that the glycemic response to Supplant sugars from fiber is less than 15% of the glycemic response to glucose. »
The go-to-market strategy
The Supplant Co (parent company, US-based Supplant Inc) has samples with multiple manufacturers and sees itself as both a b2b brand ingredient supplier and potentially a CPG brand selling products in the sugar market retail, said Simmons, who recently partnered with Chief Thomas Keller, which has added ice cream, cookies and other products using fiber-derived Supplant sugars to the menus of three of its high-end restaurants (the French Laundry and Bouchon Bakery in California, and Per Se in New York ).
“We’re not going to license the technology to a manufacturer and rely on royalties,” Simmons said.
“We’re going to handle this thing ourselves, although we’ll be working with co-makers on production [the process doesn’t require proprietary equipment].”
Besides the obvious appeal of a low-glycemic ingredient that behaves like sugar but contains fewer calories and may also have prebiotic effects, the recycling angle and scalability of the production process helped attract investors and excite potential customers, Simmons said.
“were using the most abundant bio-renewable resource on the planet [as a feedstock] and we think that can really scale globally in ways that other ingredients really can’t, so we can really scale up and create an entirely new space in the $110 billion sugars and sweeteners market of dollars.
“Plant fiber is the most abundant source of sugars in the natural world. Utilizing the fiber-rich parts of crops not currently found in our diets will be crucial to the future of our agricultural ecosystem.”