The newly-built manufacturing plant will develop the company’s Astraea allulose sweetener product. After licensing technology created by specialty ingredient leader, Matsutani Chemical Industry, Ingredion’s allulose will be marketed throughout South and North America.
Launching in Latin America
With ingredient solutions at its core, Ingredion opened its first allulose production plant in San Juan del Río, Mexico. At this location, Ingredion will manufacture, market and sell the sweetener Astraea allulose, across the Americas.
Commenting on why Ingredion chose Latin America to open its first allulose plant, and specifically Mexico, Nathan Yates, Global Platform Leader of Sugar Reduction, commented: “We see a broad interest in sugar reduction across LATAM and North America, and Mexico is a very central location.”
Engaging with specialty ingredients leader, Matsutani, to license specific allulose-related intellectual property, the company will also share marketing and sales operations. Japanese leader, Matsutani, will be responsible for marketing and selling Astraea allulose across Asian marketplaces.
“Matsutani has been developing, researching and fine-tuning a new generation of sugars, including Astraea Allulose, for more than 15 years,” said Yoshinobu Matsutani, Executive Vice President, Matsutani.
By constructing and launching the production of Astraea allulose in Mexico, the duo hopes to enable food and beverage manufacturers to lower the number of calories derived from sucrose and other caloric sweeteners in a large variety of products.
Mexico is a key growth market for Ingredion, as the ingredients provider also revealed the launch of its second Ingredion Idea Labs in the country. By investing and focusing on its innovation centers, “in collaboration with our scientists and culinary teams, we can deliver innovative ideas and solutions to food and beverage manufacturers”, Rob Ritchie, President and Director-general at Ingredion México, stated.
Describing the production base as “in a state with one of the most dynamic economies in Mexico”, Ingredion revealed that Francisco Domínguez Servién, governor of Querétaro, thanked the two companies for choosing the area when inaugurating the plant.
Unveiling its nutrition, market research, healthy ingredients and innovation in concepts ideas, Ingredion’s Rob Ritchie added that the company is “innovating with ingredients that consumers are looking for”.
In striving to bring “further innovation to the marketplace”, Ingredion aims to “meet the evolving needs of today’s global consumers”, through its Ingredion Idea Labs innovation centers and range of sweeteners, starches and unique plant-based ingredients.
Such innovation in nutrition enables food and beverage manufacturers in Mexico and the wider Latin America marketplace to “add nutrition and subtract unhealthy ingredients”. As a result, developers can “create products with healthy and nutritious benefits, without compromising quality, taste or texture”, Ingredion revealed.
Dairy, bakery, confectionery and beverages are also anticipated to benefit from the inclusion of Astraea allulose and subsequent calorie reduction in everyday food and drink items.
Opportunities and obstacles
When it comes to the key opportunities in the Latin American marketplace, “we see opportunities across a broad number of applications including beverage, bakery, dairy, frozen treats and confectionery,” Yates revealed.
Despite the wide number of food and nutrition segments that may explore allulose as a sugar alternative, there are, however, currently several hurdles to overcome in the Latin American marketplace.
“Allulose is a newer ingredient and it takes some time for consumers to know all of the advantages it brings for sugar reduction,” stated Yates. “Additionally, formulators at food and beverage companies continue to develop new recipes demonstrating the capabilities of allulose.”
The push to reduce sugar content
The relationship between nutrition and health continues to grow as consumer concerns and demands revolve around the need for more nutrition in their diets. Shoppers are simultaneously opting for the reduction or removal of unhealthy ingredients from their everyday food and beverage choices.
Two key consumer demands and market trends are influencing the need for allulose production in Latin America, Yates shared: “As consumers become more aware of their health and their sugar consumption, they are looking for ways to reduce their sugar intake.”
“Allulose is an ideal ingredient for sugar reduction as it is near zero calories but maintains a versatile functionality similar to sugar,” added Yates.
Commenting on the importance of specialties and sugar reduction in nutrition and health, Jim Zallie, president and chief executive officer, Ingredion, emphasized: “We are advancing our specialties strategy with the unique value proposition offered by allulose for sugar reduction by aligning with one of the most important food and beverage trends shaping our industry and impacting our customers.”
Also, clean labeling, cost optimization and process improvement are core consumer demands that are impacting manufacturer and brand choices when looking for ingredients.
Ingredion México reveals that from a wider consumer perspective, buyers are in agreement that they are searching for products with benefits relating to both taste and attractiveness when making food purchases.
Sucrose versus Allulose: Exploring market demand
Astraea Allulose is a sweetener that has been purposefully designed and developed to taste and function like sucrose. Belonging to the rare sugar category, allulose is absorbed by the body, but not metabolized, therefore, making it “nearly calorie-free”, Ingredion said.
D-allulose is a monosaccharide, which has “extremely low calorie compared to sucrose”, described Matsutani Chemical Industry. Allulose is commonly found in particular fruits, including figs, raisins and jackfruit. It exists in nature in small quantities.
With similar properties to sucrose in terms of its texture and performance, allulose provides comparable bulk, sweetness and functionality, demonstrated by its browning and freeze point depression performance behaviors.
As allulose is 70% as sweet as sugar, yet without the same caloric value attached, it is considered a key ingredient for formulators looking to reduce the calorie content in their foods and beverages.
Consumer Market Research conducted in 2016 by Ingredion stated that 74% of Mexicans believe it is important to reduce their sugar consumption in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Approved by COFEPRIS as a non-caloric sweetener that can be used in different food and beverage segments, brands do not have to display Astraea Allulose in the nutrition facts on products as it is exempted.