For months, Sweegen and its partner Conagen have been teasing today’s launch of Ultratia made from brazzein – a protein 500 to 2,000 sweeter than regular sugar found in the West African oubli fruit that it is able to produce in commercial quantities through microbial fermentation.
Unlike other high intensity sweeteners used to created reduced- and no-sugar products, brazzein “promises little to no bitter aftertaste and helps reduce sweet linger,” according to Sweegen.
In addition, as a protein, brazzein is heat and acid stable, easily soluble and viable across a wide pH range, meaning it will work in a variety of products, ranging from beverages to baked goods. It also is a good fit for products targeting consumers following the ketogenic or low-to-no carb diets and people with diabetes because it comes in as a zero on the glycemic index.
Despite brazzein’s versatility and ability to overcome several problems that have long plagued the sweetener segment, it has its own significant challenges – most notably its rarity in nature.
“The quest to scale and commercialize [Brazzein] has proven difficult until now,” Sweegen notes. “To scale brazzein sustainably, Sweegen uses a proprietary precision fermentation process, a technology that produces clean and sustainable ingredients.”
Having perfected this technology to produce brazzein economically, Sweegen’s partner Conagen notes that economically scaling other novel peptide ingredients and small proteins like brazzein will “rapidly follow.”
Scaling production is a significant hurdle to overcome, but it is not the only one. The ingredient still requires regulatory approval, which Sweegen says it is currently pursuing across a range of global markets.
Like other high intensity sweeteners, Ultratia alone cannot fully replicate sugar and will require the addition of other ingredients to mimic sugar both in taste and function, such as bulking.
Acknowledging this, Sweegen stresses Ultratia is another tool in its already diverse kit of modern sweeteners, including Bestevia Rebs B, D, E, I, M and N, with which it should work synergistically, and other flavor modulators and texurants.