The global strategic partnership, dubbed the Dolce Consortium, will run in several phases with both short and long-term targets.
German biotech specialist BRAIN and its subsidiary Analyticon, which has an extensive natural product compound library, will head up the research and development side while Roquette will focus on formulation and production, leaving food manufacturers free to develop marketing and sales strategies for the new ingredients.
Head of nutrition and health at Roquette R&D Sergio Neves told us the goal of Dolce is to develop new natural sweeteners and sweet enhancers allowing food and beverage companies to offer a wider selection of great tasting healthier products.
The consortium said it is placing particular focus on edible plant materials, however, it remained tight-lipped on which specific ingredients it would be using to develop its “next generation” natural sweeteners.
AnalytiCon CEO Dr Lutz Müller-Kuhrt said: "The combination of the BRAIN screening technology, the experience in accessing the toolbox of nature for identification and the development of new solutions together with the availability of the natural ingredient library at AnalytiCon is unique and will give us access to the next generation of all-natural sweeteners and sweet taste enhancers."
But according to food and beverage analyst at market research company Technavio Vijay Sarathi, the uptake of natural sweeteners in Europe is being hindered by strict EU regulation.
“The market is characterised by stringent government regulations which raise challenges for vendors to expand their market. For instance, the monk fruit-based sweeteners are still not approved in the region. Hence, with ease in regulations and approval for new products, the zero-calorie sweetener market in Europe is expected to register growth during the forecast period,” he said in an interview earlier this year.
Low calorie sweetener allulose, sold under the brand name Dolcia Prima by Tate & Lyle, is not permitted in Europe, but has GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status in the US. Similarly, stevia derived from fermentation, such as Cargill's EverSweet, is currently not approved for the EU market.
Asked whether the consortium would be developing any ingredients that would fall under the EU’s novel foods regulation, Neves said: “Depending on the nature of any selected substance, regulatory needs will be studied and checked in order to comply with all the regulatory requirements.”
In 2007 AnalytiCon and BRAIN teamed up with German flavours and fragrance specialist Symrise to develop natural active ingredients for the cosmetics industry.