27th November 2017Back
The increasing prevalence of lifestyle based diseases such as diabetes and obesity, caused in part by excessive sugar consumption, is putting the food and beverage industry under increasing pressure to find alternatives to sugar.
Chemically synthesized artificial sweeteners and bulking agents (designed to restore the missing properties of sugar – namely bulk and interaction with water) have been used since the early 1950’s. However, they are generally perceived negatively by consumers, and this has encouraged research and development into sweeteners and functional ingredients originating from natural sources.
Soluble fibres (some of which can have a prebiotic effect) are another example of carbohydrate-based functional ingredients that are of increasing interest to managing lifestyle-related health challenges.
The production of natural sweeteners, bulking agents and functional foods is estimated to be collectively worth $10 billion by 2025 (Markets and Markets 2015, Tate & Lyle Plc, Stevia Corp).
Enzymes are natural and powerful processing aids used to access valuable functionality in food chemistries. Within the “healthy-carbohydrate” market, enzymes can be used to:
- assist in the release of natural sugar molecules from plant material (e.g. steviol glycosides)
- enhance the sweetness properties (e.g. production of tagatose from lactose)
- produce bulking agents and prebiotics from simple sugars (e.g. production of galacto-oligosaccharide from milk lactose).