Sugar reduction start-up Better Juice has announced a partnership with Brazilian orange juice giant Citrosuco. The collaboration aims to decrease the amount of sugars in the latter’s juice products, in favour of increased dietary fibres.
The precise location of the pilot facility is yet to be determined, yet Better Juice expects production to be ‘up and running’ within the next six months, with capacity set for 50L of orange juice per hour.
In addition to partly funding the project, Citrosuco will offer technical and operational expertise.
Turning sugars into dietary fibres
Fruit juice has attracted negative attention of late for its high sugar and calorie content – both of which can be on par with that of certain sugar-sweetened beverages.
Concerns regarding the health impact of fruit juice are also linked to the juicing process itself, which eliminates the insoluble fibres naturally present in whole fruit.
Better Juice’s technology aims to reduce the amount of sugar in fruit juices, while increasing dietary fibre content.
The start-up’s continuous flow sugar reduction process converts sugar to fibres and other non-digestible natural sugars. “The sweetness is moderately reduced, but all the other taste components are not changed,” Better Juice founder and CEO Dr Eran Blachinsky told this publication last year.
Indeed, the process has successfully dropped sugar content in juice by 30%. The firm has trialled its technology in a variety of natural sugary liquids, including both apple and orange juice.
“It can be applied to any sugar containing food or beverage, but there is no point in using it in an added sugar product – as in these one can decide not to add sugar in the first place,” the CEO told FoodNavigator this week.
“Our solution is relevant for products where sugar is present naturally, or as an ingredient. Better Juice solution is very efficient, cost effective, and treats all types of sugars without changing other ingredients.”
An enzymatic process
The technology relies on an enzymatic process – based on non-GMO micro-organisms – that ‘naturally transforms’ juice sugars into prebiotic and non-digestible fibres and sugars.
“Our proprietary technology can be tuned to reduce between 30% to 80% of all the sugars in orange juice,” explained Blachinsky. “Making it easy conform to the minimum 25% reduction required by the FDA [US Food and Drug Administration], as well as the 30% reduction required by the EFSA [European Food Safety Authority] for allowable claims of ‘reduced sugar’ in food and beverage products.”
This process combines technologies that, by themselves, have received FDA and EFSA approval. The company has not yet applied for regulatory authorisation for its combined application. “We will dive into it once we will have enough budget,” we were told.
Citrosuco’s ‘vote of confidence’
As one of the world’s largest orange juice producers, Citrosuco’s support of Better Juice’s innovation has been welcomed by the Israeli start-up.
“This collaboration with Citrosuco is a vote of confidence in Better Juice’s leading technology and its capabilities for reducing sugar in orange juice,” said Blachinsky. “We’re excited to work with this strategic partner and help create juices with low sugar — the latest frontier in sugar reduction.”
According to Citrosuco’s product development and applications general manager, Alex Marie Schuermans, the agreement marks the end of a long search for a sugar reduction strategy.
“Better Juice’s solution holds a lot of promise and we are confident that by combining their technology with our know-how, we can accelerate production of the first sugar-reduced orange juice.”