- Blue California will scale up commercial production of allulose, a natural, non-GMO sweetener, beginning at the end of this year, according to a press release.
- The company said it expects to receive a "No Question Letter" from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on the Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) status of its allulose next year.
- The FDA announced in April that it will exempt allulose from the "total sugars" and "added sugars" line of the nutrition facts panel. Instead, it will require it to be labeled as an ingredient under the carbohydrates line.
Although allulose has been on the market for a while, it is only recently that changes to regulations surrounding the ingredient have given it an advantage in the market. When the FDA ruled in April that the sweetener was exempt from the “total sugars” and “added sugars” line items, the ingredient suddenly became a sweet option for manufacturers looking to curtail sugar and increase the use of natural alternatives.
According to a survey by Label Insight, 22% of U.S. consumers want to restrict their sugar intake. This motivation has created an alternative sugar market that is estimated to be between $16 billion and $20 billion. Stevia and monk fruit are two popular alternative sweeteners, but both have drawbacks associated with their aftertaste — something that does not impact allulose.
The sweetener also has a host of other benefits. It contains the same mouthfeel as sugar and can participate in maillard, which is the chemical reaction between amino acids and sugar that browns and caramelizes food while helping with leavening. The other two major alternative sweeteners can't do that. It's also less expensive than both stevia and monk fruit.
Not only does the sweetener's practical applications make it stand out in the market, but allulose has one-tenth as many calories as sugar, according to Food Business News. Even though it is only 70% as sweet as sugar, it is not metabolized like sucrose, making it an ideal option for individuals who don’t want to spike their blood sugar like diabetics or those on the Keto diet.
At the same time, producing substitute sugar in a lab is a newer application that consumers might be hesitant to try. Blue California’s allulose is created from natural substrates using a proprietary technology. In nature, allulose is found in certain fruits, including figs, raisins and jackfruit, but there is minimal research on the long-term effects of consuming the ingredient.
With the new classification of this product as a carbohydrate rather than a sugar, and the FDA allowing the inclusion of the ingredient in carbonated and non-carbonated food and beverages, it is likely that companies are going to increase their experimentation with the ingredient. In anticipation of this likely increase in demand, it makes sense that Blue California is scaling up commercial production.
But other companies have been experimenting with the sweet ingredient for several years now so Blue California will have plenty of competition. In 2015, Tate & Lyle developed Dolcia Prima, an allulose that can be derived from corn, beet and sugar cane. Additionally, big labels, including Fuze Meyer Lemon Black Tea, Fuze Tropical Mango Green Tea, the Quest Hero Bar and the Know Better Cookie, all use allulose to sweeten products. This growing demand demonstrates there is widespread interest for a sweetener that behaves like sugar but has all the low-calorie, better-for-you benefits that consumers crave.