DOLCE hits ‘major milestone’ in sweetener development

By Katy Askew contact

- Last updated on GMT

DOLCE wants to extend natural sweetener options beyond Stevia ©iStock/zeleno
DOLCE wants to extend natural sweetener options beyond Stevia ©iStock/zeleno
The DOLCE consortium, formed by industry groups to develop natural sweeteners, has reached a “major milestone” in its drive for natural sugar and calorie reducers “faster than expected”.

DOLCE, whose core team consists of German biotech specialist BRAIN, its subsidiary AnalytiCon Discovery and French ingredients manufacturer Roquette, has identified its “first selection” of more than 25 new natural sweetening solutions.

The companies said this is a “major milestone​” for the DOLCE partnership, which aims to develop next generation natural-based sweetening solutions.

The project, which started life in 2016, is targeting clean label solutions for the food and beverage sector, which is working to reformulate lower calorie options and remove sugar from products. A spokesperson for DOLCE told FoodNavigator that clean label sugar alternatives that also deliver on flavour still need to be developed.

“Almost all current calorie-reduced sweeteners are of chemical or synthetic origin and must be accordingly labelled. Stevia was the first natural example. But what prevents wider use of stevia are the secondary flavours that consumers describe as tasting like liquorice or bitter,”​ the spokesperson explained. “Potential clearly exists in the field of bio-based substitutes.”

Leveraging data

The DOLCE project is able to leverage the significant database of natural substances, whose structure has already been analysed and compiled by AnalytuCon.

AnalutiCon has specialised in natural substances since the 1980s and the database has been “continuously expanded” over the past three decades.

“To our knowledge, this is the largest collection worldwide. The special thing about this collection is that many of the substances were isolated from edible plants and are therefore probably eligible for GRAS (generally recognised as safe) status. That is what makes this collection so interesting as a starting point for chasing down new food ingredients,”​ the spokesperson noted.

“We can take a rational approach and look at plants that have been historically or empirically considered sweet, or which we know to taste sweet. We process these, isolate the corresponding substance and if it is new, we patent it. We have identified numerous substances and put them together in a 'sweetbox' as part of the DOLCE programme. This is for at DOLCE a jump start in terms of developing natural sweeteners.”

BRAIN has also identified one candidate which is 1,200 times sweeter than sugar, the spokesperson revealed. This “delighted”​ both internal tasters and the first external tasting team.

CPG testing begins

DOLCE’s members also consist of un-named finished food and beverage companies.

In 2016, representatives of two food categories – morning foods and snacks – joined DOLCE. In 2017, DOLCE revealed that a “globally operating”​ US-based beverage manufacturer had entered the programme in the field of non-alcoholic beverages.

The spokesperson said that DOLCE is “not at liberty”​ to share details of the participating industry members. However, he did acknowledge that the programme is being “introduced to the largest consumer product companies in the world”​ with “tremendous acceptance”​.

The DOLCE core team is currently entering into further partnerships for available product categories, and active negotiations with potential new members are ongoing.

“The selected all-natural development candidates have demonstrated outstanding properties and efficacy in our application tests. We continue to invite further CPGCs to join our ongoing successful DOLCE program,”​ Martin Langer, Unit Head Corporate Development at BRAIN, added.

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