Roquette Ventures eyes protein sweeteners from fermentation to meet demand for healthier alternatives to sugar

By Oliver Morrison

- Last updated on GMT

Image: Getty/SabdiZ
Image: Getty/SabdiZ

Related tags sugar alternative Sweeteners Fermentation

French investment firm Roquette Ventures (part of ingredients company Roquette Group), which supports start-ups in the food, nutrition, and health markets, is looking to scale up production of plant protein sweeteners made using precision fermentation.

The company has announced its investment in Magellan Life Sciences Ltd., a UK biotech company that develops plant-inspired proteins through a fermentation process and which has developed a unique proprietary expression and fermentation platform to produce new generations of protein sweeteners. The seed round was led by Roquette Ventures and completed with investments from US-based SOSV and three European business angels and will be used for optimization and scaling up of the manufacturing process of the protein sweeteners.

Edouard Nuttin, General Manager of Roquette Ventures, said the French company seeks to help accelerate the development of Magellan’s protein sweeteners to an industrial scale as they contribute negligible calories at the intended levels of usage while still maintaining the sweetness profile required by the applications and formulations.

The protein sweeteners are promising proteins for the food and beverage industries as they taste ‘almost identical to sucrose’, are stable under a wide variety of thermal and chemical conditions and boast a much higher sweetening power and can thus help meet rising consumer demand for healthier alternatives to sugar.

“In a context of global health challenges such as the rise of sugar-related diseases like diabetes or obesity, Magellan’s protein sweeteners have a tremendous potential to meet the increasing demand of consumers for healthier alternatives to sugar,”​ said Nuttin. “Roquette Ventures’ core mission is to invest in pioneer innovations for food, nutrition and health markets. When we heard about Magellan Life Sciences and its work on protein sweeteners, we found a total match with that mission and quickly decided to help accelerate the development of these products to an industrial scale.”

Speaking with FoodNavigator, Nuttin explained that Magellan’s proprietary platform X-Seed enables high levels of protein secretion into the extracellular fermentation media, which enables ‘very efficient downstream purification of the desired protein’.

“This is going to be a huge leverage for the food ingredient players seeking to find alternatives to sugar with these plant inspired, protein sweeteners which not only have an overwhelmingly close taste to sugar with negligible calories, like an intense sweetener with a protein structure, and have absolutely no bitter or metallic after taste,”​ he added.

“Furthermore, being natural protein sweeteners they do not trigger an insulin response from the body thus making them diabetic friendly and safe. Stable under extreme thermal and chemical conditions, protein sweeteners are known to be ideal candidates for food and beverage applications/formulations.”

He added there was growing acceptance of natural sweeteners in protein and in the fermentation process technologies among end consumers.  

“This process is a traditional process used in the food industry for some of the leading plant-based foods, nutritional supplements, infant formulas, beverages… Accordingly this is not news to the end consumer. Yet what we can say is that these protein sweeteners are definitively promising proteins for the food and beverage industries, will offer other brand-new solutions to meet the growing consumer demand for sugar alternatives and to contribute to current health challenges.”

Abhiram Dukkipati, Co-founder and CEO of Magellan, added: “There is a global emphasis on using plant-inspired proteins to meet food and beverage markets’ expectations. Within this theme, Magellan is addressing the important issue of sugar reduction by providing alternatives to carbohydrates with new protein sweeteners. This round of funding will allow us to expand our R&D team and scale our proprietary manufacturing process.”

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