What’s next for allulose?1 May 2019
Allulose has been pinned as a potentially game-changing ingredient, as poor perception of sugar and artificial sweeteners has opened the door to new sweetening options.
Allulose is a low-calorie, naturally occurring simple sugar that is already approved for use in a handful of countries, including the United States, Japan, Korea and Singapore. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently ruled that it would not have to be listed among added sugars on Nutrition Facts panels, meaning its widespread commercial adoption looks closer than ever.
Major suppliers like Ingredion and Tate & Lyle have welcomed the FDA’s decision, which comes ahead of a new requirement in the United States to list added sugars on food packaging, providing manufacturers with extra motivation to cut caloric sweeteners like sugar, corn syrup, honey and fruit juice concentrates.
Globally, consumer awareness of added sugars has risen, particularly after the World Health Organization recommended cutting added sugar to less than 10% of total calories, and better still, to less than 5% for improved health. According to a recent DSM survey, 55% of global consumers say they always check product labels for sugar content, and half of the 8,000 respondents said they would pay more for products that contained only natural sweeteners.
Research firm Rabobank also has pinpointed allulose as an up-and-coming sweetener. With just 0.2 calories per gram – as opposed to 4 calories per gram of sucrose – it does not contribute to tooth decay and has minimal impact on blood glucose and insulin levels. A few large sweetener companies are already supplying allulose, including Tereos and Tate & Lyle, and some start-ups are also betting on European approval, such as Belgium-based Petiva and Germany-based Savanna Ingredients. Tereos and Petiva both applied for European novel foods approval of their allulose ingredients in 2018.
Tate & Lyle also produces an ingredient blend containing allulose, sucralose and fructose, which may help food companies find a compromise, with fewer added sugar calories – from the fructose – and added sweetness from the low- and zero-calorie sweeteners. The blend contains about 90% fewer calories than sugar, and the company claims the sweeteners work synergistically; the combination with fructose heightens their sweet taste.
For now, global product launches containing allulose remain very low, with just a handful in the past couple of years, according to Mintel. However, interest in allulose looks set to intensify, especially as it meets consumer demands for natural ingredients and sugar-like taste, without the calories.
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