New technology targets diet soft drinks makers

Related tags Soft drink Coca-cola Pepsico

Soft drinks makers looking to replace sugar with sweeteners to
reach health-conscious consumers could save time and money with an
award-winning new technology from UK supplier Pursuit Dynamics,
reports Chris Mercer.

The firm described PDX Sonic 25 supersonic processing equipment as a "revolution in liquid food production"​, after it won the 2005 Technological Development of the Year at last week's Food Processing Awards in London.

PDX claims to cut cleaning time by up to 80 per cent and can be applied across the food industry from pasta and rice to confectionery and soft drinks.

But, Pursuit Dynamics​ said it would be especially useful for soft drinks producers using artificial sweeteners and thickening agents in low calorie and diet products; a sector that has seen huge attention in the last few months from big players.

The firm said producers could dramatically increase processing speed as well as save energy and cut cleaning times because of PDX's compact design and prowess in dissolving ingredients during mixing.

The process uses shockwave​ technology "that pumps, mixes, entrains and heats all in one easy-to-clean process that has no moving parts"​.

Sweeteners, such as Aspartame or Saccharin, and the thickening agents that are needed with them to improve texture, are traditionally hard to dissolve during mixing - often leaving a residue build-up on processor walls.

In Pursuit's PDX trials, a 1.3 per cent concentration of Aspartame was fully dissolved in a single pass as the solution was continuously processed at 14,500 litres per hour.

</> The firm used a 25mm bore and recorded an exit temperature of 38.5°c.

Steam costs were valued at the £0.01 per kg industry average and energy costs were less than £2 per hour. Firms can add units or raise bore size to 47mm to suit scale.

The PDX technology coincides with an important shift in strategy towards low-sugar and sugar-free formulations across developed soft drinks markets.

In March, soft drink rivals PepsiCo and Coco-Cola both launched new diet versions of their flagship fizzy drinks, using Tate & Lyle's popular low cal sweetener, Splenda.

Both firms reported disappointing results for their trademark fizzy cola brands in 2004, largely as a result of consumer health trends.

Coca-Cola also announced it would launch Coca-Cola Zero - a no-calorie drink aimed at young adults and sweetened with Aspartame. Meanwhile, PepsiCo announced it would re-launch its one-calorie drink, Pepsi One, using Splenda.

Related topics R&D Soft drinks Sustainability

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