Launched by Natur Research Foods, the blend is made up of a proprietary combination of fruit and vegetable sugars, together with organic cane juice crystals. Used in baked goods, Natur Baker's Blend Natural Sweetener is marketed as having 40 percent fewer calories than cane sugar, as well as a low glycemic index. According to the company's chief executive officer Loren Miles, the launch is "groundbreaking" as it solves the long standing problem of sugar substitution in the baked good sector. "From my point of view, no one else in the category has ever developed a sweetener you can truly bake with, one that is able to replicate most if not all of the benefits of cane sugar," he said. Miles explained that cane sugar in bakery products delivers not only taste but also helps create volume, support structure and provide browning. "In the commercial category so far there have been few options. In the artificial realm, manufacturers have had to use sucralose or aspartame as sweetening agents, which they have needed to add other materials to in order to substitute lost volume." "If companies are going for a natural profile, they use sugar alcohols such as malitol, which at high levels causes a laxative effect." Although Miles would not reveal the ingredients within the new sweetener blend, he said everything is derived from natural sources and is GRAS approved (generally recognized as safe). The patent-pending blend contains the right combination of all the ingredients in order to achieve the taste and properties of sugar. "Sugar is one of the most elegant materials on earth and trying to replicate it is not easy," said Miles. The product, which is available immediately in the US, comes in two versions: a one-to-one sugar replacer on a weight basis, and a ten-to-one replacer designed for use in baked items where volume is not so critical. The firm said all of the interest it has received so far has been for the one-to-one version "because it makes it so easy". "It allows bakers to essentially come out with a diabetic product line overnight," Miles told FoodNavigator-USA.com. The sweetener has a glycemic index of 34. Used in 3oz of basic vanilla cup cake with frosting - which has 385 calories, a glycemic index of 68 and a glycemic load of 6.8 - the firm estimates Baker's Blend can lower calories to 270, glycemic index to 50, and glycemic load to 5. The company is also selling the product at retail for use in home baking. It was this month launched on a test basis as select Sam's Club stores. Natur Research's Ingredients division last month told FoodNavigator-USA.com it has gained exclusive rights to a production process for another natural sweetener, which is says could be a natural alternative to aspartame and sucralose. Brazzein, which is derived from a plant native to Africa, will be marketed globally under the brand name Cweet. The product is touted as being 1,000 times sweeter than cane sugar on a weight basis. According to Natur Research Ingredients, scientists and the sweetener community have long been aware of brazzein's potential, but attempts to commercialize it as a sweetener have so far failed because of the lack of a practical manufacturing process to bring the product to market. The ingredient will not be available commercially for another 12 to 18 months, pending approval of a self-affirmed GRAS status.