Launched in March this year after two years of development, Fruitlift is an all-natural liquid sweetener made from a blend of whole fruit purees and concentrates.
Available in a range of flavors, fruits used include lemon, apple and mango, among others, and there is also a neutral option. Fruitlift comes in two variants – one to be introduced directly into flour, and another to be incorporated into coatings. When used at recommended levels in both the base and coating, total sugars per 30g serving tally up to 3.9g.
'The main opportunity here is no added sugar'
Hila Bentman, international brand manager for Gat Foods, said the main goal behind the sweetener was to enable no added sugar claims for breakfast cereal manufacturers, given it was simply listed as 'fruit ingredients', although making such a claim would depend on the final quantity used in the recipe.
“I think, really, the main opportunity here is 'no added sugar' and also an optional claim could be vegan, but this really depends on the brand owner,” Bentman told FoodNavigator-USA.
“The whole claim of 'no added sugar' is aimed at companies and brands that have this health awareness, where consumers are expecting them to do so. Although, frankly, the best would be to reach the mass consumers – everybody.”
Bentman said cereal brands for kids, for example, could benefit from using the sweetener, as could any better-for-you puffed cereal brand for adults.
In the next five years, she said Gat Foods' goal was for the sweetener to be widely used, in large volumes by the breakfast cereal industry.
Innovation for a declining category
Fruitlift, Bentman said, offered opportunity for industry to innovate and spark growth in a category that had faced declining sales in recent years. According to Mintel, US sales of hot and cold cereal declined 9% between 2012 and 2017 and cold cereal – 87% of the market – 11% in the same time period.
“Consumers are looking to consume less sugar as part of the health and wellness megatrend, and sales have been going downwards for the last few years in cereal,” she said.
“...There are companies that are trying to either add fiber, different flour mixtures, vitamins, or use different technological ways to improve or make the category healthier. And we did see during our market research there are some brands that have reduced sugar levels, but not to this specific sweetness profile and, of course, nobody with fruit that we know of.”
Fruitlift was designed to replace refined sugar entirely in formulations, but Bentman said it was important to note the ingredient did not match on sweetness.
“It's very mildly sweetened, very mildly, so, it's up to the brand owner to communicate with consumers. But having this low sweetness profile is kind of a statement.”
Part of a 'baby steps' strategy
The product could, for example, be a great first-step at reducing some sugars in an extruded cereal line, Bentman said.
“I think the way the whole food industry goes is in baby steps. You don't go from A to Z quickly. We believe this could be a very well accepted and logical interim step [for manufacturers].
“...Fruitlift presents a great opportunity and it's just about education and, you know, awareness. The bigger the company, the more impact it will have.”
Asked why Fruitlift was better than refined sugar, she said:“Anything that is more natural, that is closer to the real source, is better. And it is just pure concentrates or whole fruit purees and we believe that fruits have their inherent benefits.”
The sweetener made with citrus fruits, for example, also provided fiber, she said.
Pilot lab for formulation testing
Gat Foods would also open a pilot lab in Israel within the next two months for manufacturers to test the sweetener in their own formulations, something that could prove to be “very helpful and important” for industry uptake, she said.