UK –  Surging demand for allulose, a rare but highly sought-after sweetener, has made global supplier of food and beverage ingredients Tate & Lyle to expand its production capacity for the sweetener.

Tooth-friendly rare sugar allulose has 70% of the sweetness of regular sugar but only 0.4 calories per gram (vs 4cals/g for sucrose).

It reportedly has a negligible effect on blood sugar and insulin, generating strong interest from formulators seeking to replicate the sensory and functional properties of sugar, without the calories.

The sweetener was recently excluded from FDA total and added sugars declarations on the Nutrition Facts panel, further stimulating interest from food and beverage manufacturers.

Tate & Lyle has already completed the first phase of the expansion at its Loudon, Tennessee plant, significantly increasing allulose syrup production.

The company is now planning to embark on a second phase which will boost crystalline production.

Global head of sweeteners Abigail Storms said in an interview that the expansion which will “very significant increase” Loudon’s capacity is expected to be ready by the second half of 2023.

A sweetener incredibly close to sucrose

According to Storms, Allulose is incredibly close to sucrose and has the texture and bulk of regular sugar.

“There are some minor differences, but the temporal profile is almost identical, so it’s exponential, how it’s taken off,” Storms explains.

Its close similarity to sucrose makes it an ideal candidate that can be used to reduce or replace sucrose in everything from beverages, yogurt and ice cream to baked products and candies, said Storms.

Market acceptance has been exponential according to Storms. “Not so long ago, there were something like 20 launches globally, and now you’re got over 400.”

She notes that the product is gaining traction in keto applications (high-fat, moderate protein, and ultra-low-carb) as keto fans understand that it doesn’t behave like sugar, and has a negligible effect on blood sugar and insulin.

“We often recommend to customers that they provide a short explanation for consumers of what the carbs are, but consumers that are most involved know what they are looking for, and for them there is already a very high awareness of allulose.”

While allulose is not yet approved in the EU, it is approved in the US and Mexico, two key markets Tate & Lyle is targeting.

Storms revealed the British-headquartered company is also looking at some Latin American and Asian markets where the sweetener’s use is also picking up steam.

Tate & Lyle recently sold a controlling stake in its ‘Primary Products’ industrial sweeteners and starches business in the Americas to private equity firm KPS Capital Partners.

The sale was in line with the company’s strategy to focus on specialty sweeteners (such as Dolcia Prima allulose, stevia, sucralose, and monk fruit), fibers, texturants (starches), and other high-value food & beverage ingredients.

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