- Sweet proteins maker Joywell Foods changed its name to Oobli and opened the online presale for its first product: chocolate bars made with its proteins. The product contains 70% less sugar than other brands.
- Oobli says its chocolate bars taste the same as other sugar-containing counterparts on the market. The sweetener in these bars, which is identical to the sweet protein in the oubli fruit, is gut and diabetic-friendly, according to the company.
- Several firms are looking to food tech to recreate natural sweeteners that are sustainable, better for health than sugar and impart a similar taste.
The toolbox for non-sugar sweeteners is getting deeper, and Oobli’s new chocolate bars incorporate a new option. The bars have coconut sugar, but according to the ingredients label, most of the sweetness comes from “oubli fruit sweet protein,” which has the scientific name of brazzein.
Oubli fruit is a sweet berry that’s native to Africa, and it’s anecdotally said to be so sweet that young gorillas who taste it forget their mothers. It has naturally occurring proteins that give its sweetness, but they are difficult to extract from the fruit, especially since it only contains small amounts. However, the proteins can be up to 2,000 times sweeter than sugar.
Oobli was founded in 2014 to harness the sweetening power of oubli fruit — and other exotic fruits including the serendipity berry, katemfe fruit and miracle berry — and bring it to a range of food items. The company uses precision fermentation to create the sweet proteins that are found in these fruits, modifying microbes such as yeast so they produce hard-to-get sweeteners when fermented.
These chocolate bars are the first CPG product from Oobli. They are available in three flavors: 70% silky cacao, sea salt flakes and raspberry bits. All varieties are dairy and allergen-free.
In a statement, CEO Ali Wing said Oobli is planning to launch more sweet treats next year.
This summer as Joywell Foods, the company created small-batch beverages using sweet proteins in Lemon Lime, Cherry Ginger and Mint Berry flavors. They were not officially launched. Oobli said in an email that beverages are one of the products that could potentially come in 2023.
The sweeteners Oobli is making are different from rare sugars including allulose and sugar alcohols such as erythritol. Because Oobli’s sweeteners are proteins, they don’t spike blood sugar or insulin levels. They also digest like other proteins, not causing any potential intestinal distress. And, as Wing pointed out on a panel at FoodBytes by Rabobank last year, they are proteins — meaning they wouldn’t be counted as “Added Sugars” on a Nutrition Facts panel.
Even before this launch, Oobli attracted a lot of attention in the food sphere. Kraft Heinz’s investment arm Evolv Ventures has invested in both the company’s Series A and B rounds. Oobli has also been funded by SOSV’s Indie Bio and regular food tech investor Khosla Ventures.
With products ready to get to consumers, Oobli will start demonstrating what sweet proteins can do. And while Oobli is a CPG company with its own product lines coming out, Wing told Food Navigator earlier this year it is working with some strategic partners on the CPG side.
If the chocolates taste as good to consumers as traditionally sweetened ones, 2023 could be very sweet for Oobli and other companies in that space.