60-second interview: Blocking bitterness, increasing sweet taste perception... sugar cane and cane molasses distillates in focus

By Elaine Watson contact

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Sugar cane distillates can block bitterness, while cane molasses distillates can increase sweetness taste perception (pictures: ASR Group)
Sugar cane distillates can block bitterness, while cane molasses distillates can increase sweetness taste perception (pictures: ASR Group)

Related tags: sugar reduction, sugar cane distillate, ASR Group

Sugar cane distillates and cane molasses distillates can form an intriguing part of the sugar reduction toolkit, says ASR Group, the world’s largest cane sugar refining and marketing company. FoodNavigator-USA (FNU) caught up with Cesar Contreras (CC), business development manager, to learn more.

FNU: What are sugar cane and cane molasses distillates?

CC: Flavor ingredients produced through the distillation​ [boiling and then condensing the vapors to a liquid] of sugarcane stalks and leaves​ [a select variety grown for this purpose], or sugarcane molasses. They are taste modulators that can block bitterness or increase sweetness taste perception.

FNU: How are they regulated and listed on food labels in the US?

CC: They are FEMA GRAS and listed as ‘natural flavors.’

FNU: Are you supplying these distillates to flavor houses or directly to CPG companies?

CC: The majority of our business is with flavor companies as the distillates are included in natural flavor formulas, but we would like to make these more available ​[directly] to CPG companies that have flavor scientists or technicians working on sugar reduction or creating new products.

FNU: What form do the distillates come in?

CC: They are liquid ingredients, but we are coming out with dry​ [powdered] versions, which can be used in dry blends, baking mixes, and chocolates, which opens up new application opportunities.

FNU: What is sugar cane distillate (SCD) used for in food and beverage applications?

CC: SCDis a bitter blocker that modulates sourness and bitterness at 0.1% usage, so you don’t need a whole lot.

It’s ideal for use in beverages, dairy ​[for example in some tart Greek yogurt products], and coffee applications and also serves as a bitterness modulator/flavor enhancer for products formulated with stevia and monk fruit ​[which can have a bitter aftertaste].

The components loosely bind with bitter and sour receptors on the tongue, and are good for blocking bitterness in caffeine, taurine in energy drinks, and dark chocolate.

FNU: What are some interesting emerging applications for sugar cane distillates?

CC: Products containing cannabis and plant-based proteins are interesting areas for development as bitterness can be an issue in both of these categories.

FNU: What is cane molasses distillate (CMD) used for in food and beverage applications?

CC: ​CMD increases sweetness perception at 100-150 ppm, so it’s very cost efficient, delivering 1-2% SE ​[sugar equivalency/perception of sugar] in reduced sugar beverages formulated with any sweeteners.

[Unlike the sugar cane distillate] it’s highly aromatic with brown sugar notes that are perceived retronasally as a sweet aroma ​[by the olfactory nerves in the upper part of the interior of the nose] due to the presence of at least five aroma compounds, so for example, it can be used in carbonated flavored water applications that contain no sweeteners at all, and subjects will actually detect sweetness.

It's ideal for increasing sweetness perception in sugar reduced carbonated drinks (including low pH beverages), alcoholic beverages and yogurts.  It also brings out the fruity notes in some products.

ASR Group​ - a partnership between Florida Crystals Corporation and Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida – owns and operates multiple sugar refineries in North America, Europe and Latin America. Its portfolio includes iconic brands such as Domino Sugar, C&H Sugar, Redpath, Tate & Lyle, Lyle’s, Sidul, and Notadolce.   

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