The low-calorie, tooth friendly sweetener, which is derived from milk sugar lactose, will be marketed and sold as an ingredient under the Gaio name and is expected to have a wide range of product applications, from confectioneries to beverages.
US-based Spherix said that the sweetener will be used in chocolate products to be sold in New Zealand and Australia. Miada Sports Nutrition of New Zealand has introduced a new line of chocolate products, containing Gaio tagatose, called Miada ChocoLite. According to this company, the new products are expected to hit supermarket shelves in New Zealand and Australia in mid-2004. This event marks the commercial introduction the low- glycemic, and low-carb sweetener to the Pacific Rim, the first market outside the United States in making its way into the world market.
The first of the new products to be introduced will be a 50-gram chocolate bar in milk, dark, and white chocolate flavors. According to Miada Sports Nutrition's, the company plans to expand the product to include coated nuts and nut bars, Easter eggs, and novelty chocolate products under development. The company has also developed a new line of low-glycemic protein health bars coated with the new chocolate line.
Miada ChocoLite is claimed to be the first chocolate to go on sale anywhere in the Southern Hemisphere that has lower calories than standard sucrose-sweetened chocolate and very low glycemic and insulin indices. The chocolate is said to be unique in that it has prebiotic health benefits not found in standard chocolate, and, unlike other chocolate substitutes currently available, it contains no artificial sweeteners.
Thomas W. Gantt, CEO of Spherix, said, "This is good news for us and for SweetGredients. We believe that chocolate is a perfect product for the use of Gaio tagatose and we are happy to see the international interest it is generating."
In 1996, Arla Foods Ingredients licensed the exclusive worldwide rights to produce and commercialise tagatose for use in foods and beverages from Spherix. Arla and Nordzucker, a German sugar producer, have formed a joint venture company named SweetGredients to manufacture and market the sweetner.
. Frustrated by the slow arrival of its patented sweetener to the marketplace Spherix international last year begun legal proceedings against its 'overly cautious' licensee MD Foods (now part of the Swedish Arla group), claiming that the Danish company had taken an "unreasonably long time to bring tagatose to market".
The launch in August this year of the new Diet Pepsi flavoured Slurpee drink - that uses tagatose as a flavour enhancer - marked the first commercial introduction of Spherix's low-calorie sweetener and a long awaited day for Spherix.
All concerned will be keen to earn a slice of the growing sweeteners market - US market analysts BCC Communications pitched the total worldwide value of the sweetener market in 2002 at $10.92 billion (€10.02bn).