Developing fibre-rich sugar replacers from side-streams which are accepted by consumers: valorising natural occurring mixtures of bulking and sweetening ingredients from plants.
For a more sustainable and healthy daily diet, sugar reduction is one of the important targets. Sugars are used in a wide variety of food products and are found in many product categories. Apart from the sweet indulgence, often sugar covers other functions in parallel such as texture and appearance. Due to rising health concerns about high sugar intake, repsonible leaders in the food industry are engaged to come up with innovative ways to reduce the amount of added sugars in consumers’ products. Still remaining indulgence and functionality at the same time.
Sugars are responsible for many properties of food and therefore cannot be easily replaced by a single ingredient. Removing or replacing sugar will alter the characteristics of a food product. Via a reverse engineering approach, it is possible to develop natural sugar alternatives to replace the functionalities of sugar towards texturizing/bulking and sweetening, which can allow the industry to further reduce the sugar content of their offerings to the consumer.
On the other hand, food manufacturing is comprised of several complex processes which generate vast amounts of side streams. Usually strategies for dealing with these materials are undeveloped and result in low economic value. Companies seek improved total use of crops and circularity for an improved footprint and revenuestream.The development of novel sugar replacers from plant-based side-streams can generate social impact in the field of sustainability of (healthy) food and combats food waste, allowing healthier product offerings to consumers.
EXTREAMS is a multidisciplinary project which aims to achieve breakthrough innovations in valorising plant-based side streams as natural, clean-label sugar replacers in food applications that are accepted by consumers.
Valorisation of plant-based side-streams (polysaccharides-rich) for replacing texturizing and taste functions of sugar will be achieved by involving all relevant stakeholders in the food production chain. Novel sugar replacers will be developed by connecting molecular structure to functionality via minimal processing biorefinery. Unique scientific know-how on physical and chemical properties of sugars will be used to develop the biorefinery concepts for each side-stream. This unique knowledge has already enabled the development of a digital tool for sugar replacement based on commercial ingredients. The underlying principles will be now extended to obtain functional fractions from naturally occurring mixtures of bulking and sweetening ingredients from plants.
The project focusses on
- Economically sustainable approaches at industrial scale
- Utilizing emerging, mild processing technologies
- Reverse engineering approaches to obtain functional fractions
- Building know-how on texturizing-taste modulation
- Consumer insights in acceptability and naturalness perception of sugar replacers from side streams;
- Functional, natural, clean-label sugar replacers based on naturally occurring or optimized blends from side streams, applicable in food products;
- Evaluation of structure-function relation models in developing process concepts for functionalization of plant-based side streams towards natural, clean-label sugar replacers;
- Validated assays for analysing texturizing and bulking properties;
- Validated cell-based assays to study sweeteners and unravel mechanistic insights and formulation strategies;
- Validated tools for fast process monitoring which speed up assessment from days to hours;
- Economical feasible mild industrial processes to derive plant-based, low-calorie sugar replacers from plant-based side streams.