The company said its natural alternative to sugar is likely to appeal to the health-conscious consumers who want to manage their weight or sugar intake. It can be used in products such as confectionery, beverages, jellies and tabletop sweeteners.
The move is also likely to increase Cargill’s presence in a growing market as the volume consumption for erythritol in China rose to 321.9 tonnes in 2007, compared to 153.5 tonnes in 2002, according to Euromonitor International. The forecast for 2012 is 634.1 tonnes.
Zerose is the brand name for Cargill's erythritol, a sugar alcohol that is an odorless white crystalline powder and has a sweet taste similar to sucrose. It is approximately 70 percent as sweet as sucrose and has a caloric value of 0.2 calories per gram.
Erythritol, unlike other polyols, has a low laxative effect and as a result, Cargill says foods that contain it are “unlikely to cause gas or laxation” when consumed at customary serving sizes.
Steven Tung, Cargill sales manager (Greater China), said: “Zerose erythritol offers a solution to both health and indulgence.
“The ultimate winners will be food manufacturers who can combine zero calorie properties with excellent taste, satisfying mouthfeel and an appeal to the growing healthy-lifestyle Chinese market.”
Zerose is non-glycemic and non-insulinemic, making it a useful sugar alternative for people on diabetic diets. Similarly it is not a saccharide or simple sugars substrate, so it is resistant to metabolism by oral bacteria and does not promote tooth decay.
An organic version of Zerose is also available to Chinese manufacturers.
An eye on Asia
Cargill has been targeting growing markets in Asia and in 2006 it set up new offices in the region to boost sales of its sweetener brands.
At the time it already had a sales office in Tokyo, handling demand for erythritol, but increasing interest in this and other high value sweeteners in surrounding markets led it to make the additional investment in China and Singapore and make its brand known.
More recently it opened The South East Asia Food Application Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to help develop innovative new beverage, dairy, sugar and chocolate confectionery products.
The centre was set up to work with food and beverage manufacturers in the region and to bring Cargill’s product formulation expertise for palm oil refining, texturizing and flavoring businesses under one roof.
Cargill is to give an overview of the sort of new product development and marketing possibilities of Zerose during a technical seminar for food manufacturers and formulators held on September 22 in Shanghai. A similar seminar will soon be held in Guangzhou.
In the US Cargill is a major supplier of erythritol, along with Rochem, which sources a lot of its products from China.