Additional participants in the round – which will support large scale production of DouxMatok products with Südzucker in Europe and commercialization in North America - include Pitango Venture Capital, Jerusalem Venture Partners, BtoV Partners, OurCrowd, and La Maison.
Commercial quantities of DouxMatok sugar should be available in the last quarter of 2019, said the firm, which uses an inert mineral particle (silica) as a carrier for sugar molecules.
The sucrose molecules surround and coat the silica particle to form structures that human taste receptors perceive to be sweeter than a comparable amount of sugar in free unassociated form – enabling sugar reductions of up to 50%, depending on the application.
DouxMatok sugar is listed as 'sugar' on the ingredients list
The ‘enhanced’ sugar performs – and tastes – just like regular sugar (you can freeze it, heat it, bake it), and can be listed as ‘sugar’ on the ingredients list, CEO Eran Baniel told FoodNavigator-USA.
"What's unique about our solution is that it is sugar-based. Our approach is to not to disrupt the industry or the consumer. Our technology will allow the industry to continue to make the very same indulgent products, with the same taste and more than 40% less sugar and consumers will not need to change their habits. All will benefit from a much improved nutritional profile."
The silica is an incidental additive and does not have to be declared on the ingredients list, although some manufacturers may wish to do so in the interests of complete transparency, said Baniel.
"Some customers see the silica disclosed on Evian or Fiji water and will follow the example. We are working with our customers to provide recommendations and the necessary information to make their decisions in regards to labeling."
When DouxMatok sugar is consumed, the sucrose is metabolized as normal and the silica* (which is tasteless, odorless and calorie-free) passes through the body and is excreted.
Next generation of products go beyond sugar
The first products are the enhanced sugars, but DouxMatok has also been experimenting with additional ingredients such as salt, polyols (maltitol, xylitol, erythritol), vanilla, and high fructose corn syrup, said Baniel.
"We were made aware of the impact we have on vanilla through DouxMatok sugar users providing direct feedback to their applications that included vanilla. We are continuing to study this and will devote more time once we have the R&D resources."
As for salt, he said: "The biology of the saltiness receptors is very different and requires an alternate approach – even when the improved delivery principle is present. We have done the initial proof of concept successfully using a completely different line of carriers."
DouxMatok was founded in 2014 by Eran Baniel. His father, Avraham Baniel, who worked as a consultant with Tate & Lyle to develop sucralose, came up with the technology underpinning DouxMatok (which means ‘double sweet’ in French and Hebrew) in his nineties.
Asked about the plans in North America, Baniel said: "This past year, we’ve focused on establishing our partnership with Südzucker and scaling-up production in Europe.
"The North American market provides great opportunities and need for sugar reduction, driven by strong consumer demand, labeling regulation of added-sugars and food companies intensively reformulating products to meet healthier nutritional profiles. With the new funds now available, we expect to accelerate our commercialization plans in North America in partnership with local partners, but cannot disclose further at this stage."
*Silica is a GRAS (generally recognized as safe) food additive that is widely used in the food industry as everything from an anti-caking agent to an emulsifier (currently the FDA permits the use of silicon dioxide at up to 2% by weight of a food).
DouxMatok has had particular success in chocolate, baked foods and cereals, said CEO Eran Baniel.
"We’ve successfully completed butter biscuits and white cake EIT [European Institute of Innovation and Technology] projects with several leading European companies and Reading University [in the UK]. Consumers not only thought that the 40% reduction we developed was as sweet as the full amount of sugar, but they preferred the DouxMatok version in a blind consumer research study.
"We are very active in chocolate and spreads, in cream fillings either in EIT projects or with CPG partners and a number of cereal bar projects are moving forward. We are also finding success in reducing sugar in soft candies and gummies."
As for labeling, partners "are all approaching this differently," said Baniel. Some are looking to make stealthy reductions in sugar, while others are keen to promote that they are reducing sugar and want to highlight their use of DouxMatok sugar (a.k.a. 'intel inside).
"We trust that our pioneering partners, who are making an impact and innovating for their consumers, will recognize the use of our branded ingredient on their pack!"
As less sugar is required to deliver the same sweetness, formulators typically have to add some bulking agents from fibers to erythritol in applications where bulk is needed, such as bakery, although in some cases, such as dairy, other components in the recipe can simply be used in slightly higher amounts.