An importer and distributor of raw materials to manufacturers in the food, beverage and nutritional supplement industries, DNP will have the non-exclusive rights to distribute Shugr sweetener as a raw material ingredient to manufacturers nationwide and globally.
"Our partnership with DNP allows us to broaden our commercial marketing and sales reach, it provides us access to the raw material ingredients marketplace and moves us one step further in our international growth strategy," said Fred Tannous, CEO of Health Sciences Group.
Hovsep Margaryan, the vice president of DNP International, said that his company had been keen to distribute Shugr as it could see the attraction of the product, heralded by Health Sciences as "the world's first truly natural, zero-calorie, diabetic-safe sweetener" that "tastes and cooks like sugar".
"We see a distinct need in the marketplace for an alternative non-nutritive sweetener, and we feel that Shugr fills this need perfectly," he said. "We're particularly impressed with the taste, which is virtually indistinguishable from table sugar. We feel this offers a significant advantage to manufacturers, who will no longer need to mask the aftertaste of other non-nutritive sweeteners. And, since Shugr is 99.5 percent natural, we believe it will appeal to consumers concerned about synthetic sweeteners."
Shugr is said to be made from a proprietary blend of erythritol - a sugar alcohol that appears as an odorless white crystalline powder and is approximately 70 percent as sweet as sucrose and has a caloric value of 0.2 calories per gram - and tagatose to provide added sweetness and pre-biotic fiber to aid digestion.
Loren Miles, the company's CEO, told FoodNavigatorUSA.com at the product's launch that 99 percent of the sweetener is made from natural ingredients, meaning that the product is legally classified as natural.
"We are not stating that the product is all natural, we are legally natural," said Miles.
In his eyes, the only other sweetener on the market that could be classed as "natural" is stevia, but this ingredient, unlike Shugr, is not certified GRAS.
However, it will have to prove to food manufacturers and consumers that natural is worth the extra cost. At $9.99 for 50 consumer servings, the ingredient is several times more expensive than its synthetic counterparts.
"An extra couple of pennies is not an issue for a consumer who is becoming aware of problems associated with synthetic products," said Loren. He admitted that price will be a problem to some, but added that the price could come down if demand is considerable.
After a two year development program at a cost of over a $1 million, the product has been initially launched in the US, but should be available globally within the next few months.
"It has no after taste, a similar granular look and texture to sugar and a cool, light, sweet taste," said Loren. He added that Shugr would caramalise like sugar when cooked, but at a lower heat, meaning that a product containing the ingredient would have to be cooked for slightly longer. However, he affirmed that foods made with Shugr would rise like sugar-based items, which he said wouldn't be the case with Splenda or Equal.
Splenda, a product of privately held McNeil Nutritionals, includes the regulator-approved synthetic sucralose, while Equal, made by Merisant is manufactured from the FDA-tested synthetic aspartame.