- Israel-based sugar reduction ingredient company DouxMatok announced a manufacturing partnership with Lantic, owned by Rogers Sugar, Canada's largest refiner of the sweetener. DouxMatok's signature ingredient, which allows the amount of sugar in products to be reduced about 40%, is expected to be available to U.S. food companies in 2021.
- DouxMatok and Lantic have been working together for two years, transitioning from pilot testing to commercial-scale manufacturing of the ingredient. The companies also have been working with food companies in North America to develop new products and reformulate existing ones to use less sugar.
- DouxMatok has been expanding its reach during the last several years, and has made other key agreements with manufacturers. In 2018, DouxMatok entered a similar partnership with European sugar company Südzucker.
As consumers look for ways to eat less sugar — and Nutrition Facts labels now broadcasting exactly how much of the sweetener is added to products — DouxMatok's ingredient has been anxiously awaited. With a manufacturing partnership in North America, significant work on learning how to best formulate products with less sugar and $22 million in funding received last year, its time is close.
The press release said the agreement has been in the works for two years. DouxMatok has referenced it in interviews, but not revealed the other party. DouxMatok CEO Eran Baniel told Food Dive earlier this year that prototypes of products with DouxMatok have been developed for the North American market — and have done exceptionally well in consumer tests.
Now the question is when this ingredient will start getting into products and onto shelves or in menus. Lantic has a large reach in Canada, with refineries in Montreal and Vancouver, British Columbia, as well a factory in Alberta that can produce up to 165 tons of sugar annually from locally grown sugar beets.
Canada is currently not a major importer of sugar to the United States. Most of America's non-domestic sugar comes from Mexico. Sugar imports are covered under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which allows more than 21 million pounds to come into the U.S. under reduced tariffs. The favorable trade status could make it easy for DouxMatok's ingredient to cross the border and become part of items manufactured in the United States.
While DouxMatok's technology may be revolutionary, manufacturing partnerships are vital to making it available to the masses. The company, founded in 2014, does not have its own refineries, nor does it have a dedicated source of sugar beets or sugar cane. Months after the agreement with Südzucker in 2018, Baniel told Food Dive that since their ingredient is so similar to refined sugar, it makes sense to work with large producers to make it. The ingredient also helps bring sugar refiners into a future where consumers are trying to cut down on their sugar intake.
"It’s an old, traditional industry that can do wonders once you introduce innovation to them," Baniel said.
DouxMatok is not the only sugar replacement that's being produced on an industrial scale. Manufacturers are also looking to natural ingredients — including stevia, monk fruit, erythritol and allulose — to sweeten products and improve the way ingredients look on their Nutrition Facts panels. Some of these, including stevia and monk fruit, are much more intense than traditional sugar, meaning less is needed to deliver the same degree of flavor. Erythritol has fewer calories than sugar, while allulose is metabolized differently and is not considered an added sugar for labeling purposes.
But every sweetener is different, and it's unlikely right now that any one of them will own the market in quite the same way sugar does. One thing is certain: Consumers say taste is the most important aspect of anything they eat. Other natural sweeteners are prone to off tastes, but DouxMatok is actually sugar, which should give it an advantage on its competitors.
Baniel told Food Dive the company has been able to make its sugar work well in every application except beverages. It has spent the last year improving its strategies to formulate products to function the same with less sugar. This preparation, coupled with the familiar taste profile and the volume of the ingredient that will be available in the United States next year, may quickly propel DouxMatok to more success.