Developed by inventor and DouxMatok CEO Avraham Baniel - who used to be part of Tate and Lyle's Splenda team - along with the Warner Babock Institute for Green Chemistry, a carrier particle is coated with sugar molecules using non-covalent bonding. This increases the surface area meaning the same sweetness can be achieved using less sugar.
Joint CEO Eran Baniel told FoodNavigator that because DouxMatok – which means twice as sweet in French and Hebrew - uses sugar, rather than artificial or alternative sweeteners, consumers' taste expectations are satisfied and there are no aftertaste issues .
“We’re not about reformulation. We don’t take some stevia, some corn syrup and mix them up (…). In medicine you talk of drug delivery - we do flavour delivery.
"...The sensory profile of DouxMatok is literally the same as sugar."
The carrier particle has been approved for use in food and beverage applications and requires no regulatory process. DouxMatok filed two US and two European patents for previous technology using nano-sized particles, but the current carrier particles use micron-sized particles which pose no regulatory hurdles.
Taste is king for the consumer – cost for the company
At a tasting session in Israel FoodNavigator tried out DouxMatok's tomato ketchup with 54% less sugar, and DouxMatok peach jam which uses 38% less sugar for the same amount of fruit as a conventional recipe.
While there were some textural differences – the DouxMatok products had more body and were slightly darker in colour – the sweetness was the same.
This ‘equisweetness’ has been confirmed by independent panels from UK consumer research agency Sensory Dimensions, while its only taste constraint is a slight reduction in bitterness. But, according to Baniel, this only poses a problem for manufacturers of dark chocolate.
Despite reducing the calorie content, DouxMatok's food technologists found a way to retain the same energy content - an important factor for consumers. ”Nobody ever says ‘I’m really tired – I need some aspartame for energy!’, so we kept that as well,” said the CEO.
But while taste is essential for consumers, companies are concerned by cost – and DouxMatok responds to both these needs.
“We come out below the price of sugar… [and] this is a very important issue for the industry.
“If you’re the same price as sugar all you get is compliments and nothing else.”
Taste for taste – but not weight for weight
For the moment, weight is DouxMatok’s biggest limitation. The carrier particle is so effective in cutting out sugar that the end product – while the same size in terms of volume - can be significantly lighter that the original product, and compensating for this loss by increasing other ingredients, such as cocoa in chocolate, could be costly for manufacturers of certain products.
But this is something the R&D team is working to overcome, Baniel said.
“Volume-wise we are big but for weight we are light. So we are also studying if we can have a unique filler – but we’re not there yet.”
DouxMatok has scheduled several workshops with large European manufacturers at the end of June to test out suitable applications of its product and teach them how to use the technology as some culinary methods need to be adapeted - DouxMatok's sugar needs to be added to a product at very specific moments and its sweetness can be enhanced or lost within a matter of seconds.
It has been developed and taste-tested for candy, chocolate, baked and dairy products and pharmaceutical syrups, while a second generation particle called S2 can be used in beverages.
The R&D team is looking into using the technology for salt reduction, while a carrier particle for Xylitol, Malitol and Erithrytol has also been developed.