Has a startup finally found one of food science’s holy grails with its healthy sugar substitute?


A little less than three years back at the Computer technology Museum in Mountain View, Calif. the creators of a young company coming from Cambridge, England attended to a crowd of stars, investors and business owners at Y Combinators August Demo Day assuring a transformation in food science.
Throughout the years, the event has become a relatively low-tech, low-budget display for a group of tech investors and billionaire market experts to have a look at early phase companies that could be their next billion-dollar chance.
Sharing the stage with other innovation-minded budding entrepreneurs the Cambridge researchers possessed a technology might produce a sweetener that would mimic not just the taste of sugar, but the caramelization and stickiness that makes sugar the go-to additive for the bulk of approximately 74% of packaged foods that are made with some kind of sweetener. Their company, Cambridge Glycoscience might declare a huge piece of a market worth at least a $100 billion market, they said.
Now, the business has a new name, Supplant, and $24 million in equity capital funding to start advertising its low-priced sugar substitute made from the waste materials of other plants

” Conventional walking cane sugar is greatly water extensive,” stated Supplant co-founder Tom Simmons in an interview. Simmons stated that his businesss sugar substitute isnt based on one substance, however is derived from a variety of things that come from fiber. “Fiber derived sugars are in the classification of sugars, but are not the calorific sugars,” stated Simmons.
The discovery that these sugars work well and can replace walking stick sugar. Many sugars dont act like walking stick sugar in food.

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The bitter history of the sweetest ingredient.
Sugar entered into the human diet roughly 10,000 years back as sugarcane, which is native to New Guinea and parts of Taiwan and China. Over the next 2,000 years the crop spread from those areas to Madagascar and ultimately settled in India, where it was first improved in about 500 BC.
From there, the sweetener spread across the known world. By the very first century ADVERTISEMENT Roman and greek scholars were referencing its medical homes and, after the Crusades, sugar consumption took a trip throughout Europe through the Middle Ages.
It was a welcome replacement from Europes essential, honey, and the early artificial sweeteners utilized by the Romans, which included near-lethal doses of lead.
The cold environments of Northern Europe proved mainly unwelcoming to sugarcane growing so the root settled in the more temperate South and the islands off of Europes southern coast.
Those regions also became home to the very first European try outs agricultural slavery– a byproduct of the sugar trade, and one that would plant the seeds for the international exploitation of indigenous American and African labor for centuries as the commercial growth of sugar production spread to the New World.
First, European indentured servants and shackled indigenous individualss powered the production of sugar in the Americas. As native populations passed away off due to the introduction of European diseases, genocidal attacks, and back-breaking labor, African slaves were brought to the brand-new colonies to work the mills and fields to make refined sugar.
Sugar hangover.
The horrors of slavery might be the most damning legacy of commercial sugar, however its far from the only issue brought on by the human craving for sweeteners.
As environment modification becomes more of a risk, fears of increasing deforestation to fulfill the worlds demand– or to offer cover for other industrialization of virgin forests– have occurred thanks to new policies in Brazil.
” Conventional cane sugar is greatly water extensive,” said Supplant co-founder Tom Simmons in an interview. Thats another issue for the environment as water ends up being the next resource to be stressed by the currents of environment modification. And species extinction provides another huge issue too.
” The WWF number one source for biodiversity lost worldwide is walking stick sugar plantations,” Simmons stated. “Sugar is an enormous customer of water and on the other hand, theres big sustainability pitch for what we do. the raw materials are items of the current farming industry.”.
And the quest for sugar substitutes in the U.S. has featured associated health costs as high fructose corn syrup has actually made its way into lots of American products. Developed in 1957, corn syrup is one of the most common sweeteners utilized to change sugar– and one thats believed to have exceptionally devastating results on the health of consumers worldwide.
Making use of corn syrup has actually been linked to an increasing frequency of fatty, diabetes, and obesity liver illness, in the worlds population.
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA– APRIL 08: In this picture illustration, items consisting of high sugar levels are on display screen at a supermarket on April 8, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. The World Health Organisations first worldwide report on diabetes discovered that 422 million grownups deal with diabetes, generally in establishing countries. Australian diabetes professionals are advising the Federal Government to consider enforcing a sugar tax to deal with the growing issue. (Photo by Luis Ascui/Getty Images).
Searching for A Healthier Substitute.
As Supplant and its investors seek to take the crown as the ruling replacement for sugar, they sign up with a long line of potential occupants to sugars throne.
The first feasible, non-toxic chemically obtained sugar replacement was found in the late 18th century by a German chemist. Called saccharine it was popularized at first during sugar lacks triggered by the first World War and got traction during the health fads of the sixties and seventies.
Saccharin, still available in pink Sweet n Low packages and a host of items, was prospered by aspartame (recognized commercially as Equal and present as the sugar substitute in drinks like Diet Coke), which was supplanted by sucralose (referred to as Splenda).
These chemically derived sweeteners have actually been the requirement on the marketplace for decades now, however with a growing push for natural– rather than chemical– alternatives to sugar and their failures to function as a replacement for all of the important things that sugar can do as a food active ingredient, the need for a much better sugar has never been greater.
Supplanting the competitors.
” Not everything that we back is going to change the world. This, at scale, does that.” said Aydin Senkut, the founder and handling partner of Felicis Ventures, the venture company thats one of Supplants biggest backers..
Part of what persuaded Senkut is the truth that Supplants sweetener has actually currently gotten preliminary approvals in the European Union by the regions regulatory equivalent of the Food and Drug Administration. That approval not only covers the sale of Supplants item as a sweetener, but also as a probiotic with tangible health advantages he stated.
Not just is the Supplant product arguably a better and more direct sugar replacement, as the creators claim, it also has health advantages through offering increased fiber in customers who utilize it regularly, Senkut stated.
” The European FDA is even stricter than the U.S. FDA,” Senkut said.” [And] they got pre-approval for this.”. Senkut and Felicis purchased Cambridge Glycosciences practically right away after seeing the companys discussion at Y Combinator.
” We became the largest financiers at seed,” Senkut stated.
Its selling points were the products very low glycemic index and its ability to be produced from waste plant fibers, which means that it ultimately can be produced at a lower cost, according to Senkut.
Whats the distinction?.
Supplant differs from its competition in a number of other essential ways, according to company co-founder Tom Simmons.
While companies like the Israeli start-up DouxMatok or Colorados MycoTechnology and Wisconsins Sensient deal with developing additives from fungus or tree roots or bark that can enhance the sweet taste of sugars, Supplant utilizes alternative sugars to create its sweetener, Simmons said..
” The core distinction is theyre dealing with cane sugar,” according to Simmons. “Our pitch is we make sugars from fiber so you dont need to use walking cane sugar.”.
Simmons said that these other start-ups have been approaching the issue from the wrong direction. “The issue that their technology addresses isnt the issue the industry has,” Simmons said. “Its about texture, bulking, caramelization and formation … We have a technology thats going to provide you the very same sweetness gram for gram.”.
There are six various kinds of calorific sugar, Simmons described. Theres lactose, which is the sugar in milk; sucrose, which comes from sugarcane and sugar beets; maltose, discovered in grains like wheat and barley; fructose, the sugar in fruits and honey; glucose, which is in almost everything, but particularly carbohydrate-laden vegetables, fruits, and grains; and galactose, a basic sugar that originates from the breakdown of lactose.
Simmons stated that his businesss sugar replacement isnt based on one substance, however is stemmed from a series of things that come from fiber. Using fibers implies that the body recognizes the substances as fibrous and treats them the exact same method in the gastrointestinal system, however the items act and taste like sugar in food, he said. “Fiber obtained sugars remain in the classification of sugars, however are not the calorific sugars,” said Simmons.
NEW YORK– DECEMBER 6: Packets of the popular sugar alternative Splenda are seen December 6, 2004 in New York City. The producer of sucralose, the key active ingredient in the no-calorie sweetener, says demand is so high for the product that it will not be able to take on new U.S. consumers until it doubles production in 2006.
Trust the process?.
Supplants technology utilizes enzymes to break down and fragment numerous fibers. “As you begin breaking it down, it starts looking molecularly like sucrose– like walking stick sugar– so it begins behaving in a comparable method,” said Simmons.
This is all the outcome of years of research that Simmons started at Cambridge University, he said. I was interested in doing science, making creations and things that would reach the broader world.
In time, after receiving his doctorate and beginning his post-doctoral work into the research study that would ultimately become Supplant, Simmons recognized that he needed to begin a business. “To do and try something impactful I was going to have leave the university,” he stated..
In some ways, Supplant operates at the intersection of all of Simmons interests in sustainability, health, and nutrition. And he stated the business has plans to use the processing innovation throughout a variety of consumer products ultimately, but for now the business remains focused on the $100 billion sugar substitute market.
” Theres a handful of different core underlying scientific approaches in various spaces,” he said. The sort of things that go into individual care and homecare. Those chemicals. A huge drive in the industry is for both less extreme and severe chemicals in shampoos however also to do so in a method thats sustainable. Thats made type a sustainable source but also biodegradable.”.
Next actions.
With the cash that the business has actually now raised from financiers consisting of Bonfire Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Felicis, Soma Capital, and Y Combinator, Supplant is now going to show its products in a few very targeted test runs. * The first is a big launch with a star chef, which Simmons teased, but did not elaborate on.
Senkut stated that the companys roll out would resemble the methods which Impossible Foods went to market. Beginning with a few trial runs in greater end restaurants and foods before trying to make a run at a mass customer market.
The feedstocks for Supplants sugar alternative originated from sugar walking stick rice, bagasse and wheat husks, and the processing equipment comes from the developing industry. Thats going to be a benefit as the business seeks to build out an office in the U.S. as it establishes a foothold for a bigger manufacturing presence down the line.
” Were taking recognized science and applying it in the food industry where we know that it has worth,” Simmons said. “Were not creating any brand new enzymes and each part of the procedure– none of it on their own are brand-new. The discovery that these sugars work well and can replace cane sugar. Thats someone that nobody has done in the past. Most sugars do not behave like cane sugar in food. Theyre too dry, theyre too wet, theyre too hard, theyre too soft.”.
Ultimately the customer items objective resonates highly for Simmons and his twenty person group. “Were going to utilize these extremely plentiful renewable resources produced all around the world,” he stated..
* This story was updated to include Bonfire Ventures and Khosla Ventures as financiers in Supplant.


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