“We found a way to convert all types of sugar to other types of molecules that are not digested by our body,” Eran Blachinsky, PhD, founder and CEO of Better Juice, told FoodNavigator-USA.
Better Juice entered a partnership with Brazilian juice manufacturer, Citrosuco, last year to deploy the sugar-reduction technology in the production of its juice products. The company is now installing its pilot plant in more markets including the US to achieve full commercialization of the technology within the year, said Blachinsky.
“All these companies that we are in collaboration with desperately want it,” he said.
Since its founding in 2017, Better Juice has scaled-up its system and can process juice at a rate of up to 13.2 gallons per hour, a significant milestone for the company, he said.
“Today there is no solution like this,” claimed Blachinsky.
How it works
Better Juice uses natural enzymes from non-GMO microorganisms to convert simple sugars in 100% juice into non-digestible compounds (i.e. dietary fibers) without impacting the smell, vitamin composition, and to a large extent, taste, as the perceived sensory sweetness of the juice is reduced by 15% to 20% as a result of the conversion process, said Blachinsky.
“It maintains all the benefits of juice. And the mouthfeel is the same,” he noted.
To do this, the company’s technology modifies one short, simple pass-through step to the juice-making process, he explained.
The process uses a continuous-flow system containing immobilized non-GMO microorganisms (instead of live ones), and as the juice passes through, the enzymes within the ‘dead’ microorganisms bio-convert the juice sugars into dietary fibers and other non-digestible sugars “so there’s no secondary metabolites produced by fermentation,” said Blachinsky.
The juice that comes out the other side of the system, is still 100% juice but with less sugar (anywhere between 30% to 80% sugar reduction) without the addition of any other ingredients, according to Blachinsky.
Read more about the sugar reduction enzymatic processing technology HERE.
Answering market demand for sugar reduction solutions
No longer a trend but a normal consumer behavior, 57% of US adults surveyed in The NPD’s Group’s Health Aspirations and Behavioral Tracking Service say they look for sugar content first when reading nutrition labels, followed by calorie content.
HealthFocus International’s 2019 USA Trend Study: Shoppers’ Journey Towards Living & Eating Healthier (conducted in November-December 2018 with 2,000+ respondents) revealed that 45% of respondents said reducing sugar has become more important in their diets, and nearly 50% said ‘lower sugar’ statements are important to them when shopping for food and beverage products.
Blachinsky added that while many consumers’ tastebuds are hard-wired to prefer a sweeter product, its juice products have been well-received by consumers who have slightly less of a sweet tooth and are actively seeking ways to reduce their sugar intake, preferring a slightly less sweet taste profile.
“It is aligned with the people that prefer drinking coffee without sugar or drinking a diet product. We are targeting people who want to try reduced sugar products,” he said.
Better Juice has performed some consumer testing and found that more than 30% of participants preferred the juice made via the Better Juice process.
What comes next?
While the technology can be applied to virtually any type of liquid containing naturally-occurring sugars (for instance, milk), the company is focused solely on the juice category for now, said Blachinsky.
“The idea is to install the device in each [beverage] company where it will be another device in the production line,” said Blachinsky.
Better Juice is currently seeking investment and funding to help achieve full commercial scale of its technology, he added.
Want to learn more about the latest frontier in sugar reduction solutions? Catch Dr. Eran Blachinsky during RE:FORMULATE, ADVANCING SUGAR REDUCTION TECHNOLOGIES, an exclusive online event taking place on Sept. 9, 2020. Register HERE.