- Natural sweeteners erythritol and xylitol will be produced in greater quantities under a new agreement between DFI and Mitr Phol Group, according to a company statement.
- Production plants will be built in Thailand, where Mitr Phol is based, as well as somewhere in the United States. DFI's pilot production facility is in Lancaster, NY. Through the partnership, sugarcane and cassava grown in Thailand will be used to produce the sweeteners.
- Erythritol and xylitol are currently available in natural food stores, but are not widely used now. According to the statement, the two substances account for about 0.39% of the total world sweetener market.
Erythritol and xylitol are both sugar alcohols, which are naturally found in plants and contain fewer calories than traditional sugar. It causes no tooth decay, and can be eaten by diabetics. It's popular with people on low-carb diets because it has a glycemic index of zero. Both sweeteners are used today in breath mints, sweetener packets and gum.
According to its company website, DFI has a process using electrochemistry to efficiently produce the two natural sweeteners. With 1.4 pounds of starch, DFI can get a pound of erythritol. Meanwhile, traditional procedures can get a pound of the sweetener from 10 pounds of birch logs.
With natural sugars coming in vogue — for both consumer health reasons as well as the "added sugars" listing on the new Nutrition Facts label — wider production of erythritol can be a boon to the industry. However, manufacturers should approach the ingredient with some caution. Because it is a sugar alcohol, large amounts of the sweetener have been found to cause stomach cramping for some consumers.