Performs like sugar, metabolized like a fiber? The Supplant Company unveils upcycled ‘sugars from fiber’

From allulose to erythritol to xylitol, food manufacturers have a growing number of alternatives to table sugar to choose from these days, says The Supplant Company​ founder Dr Tom Simmons, a Cambridge University academic who realized his post-doctoral research on plant science could have some pretty exciting real-world applications after going through the Y Combinator accelerator program in 2018.

But they’re often expensive, hard to scale, or lack all of the properties we know and love about sucrose (browning, caramelization, etc), said Simmons, who has filed a suite of patents around technology that uses enzymes to break down polysaccharides (long chains of sugars) in fibrous plant materials from corn cobs and wheat straw or oat husks into oligosaccharides and sugars, which are then combined to create what he calls ‘sugar from fiber.’

Performs like a sugar, metabolized more like a prebiotic fiber?

The ingredient, which performs just like sucrose in food applications from cakes to chocolate, has about a third of the sweetness of sucrose, and just under half the calories, and can be used to replace some or all of the sugar in a given application, depending on the sweetness level you’re looking for, said Simmons, who has raised $26m to date from investors including Coatue, EQT, Felicis, Khosla, and Mantaray.    

For nutrition labeling purposes, it has 1.8 calories per gram, and is classified as a sugar and a fiber, with the fiber portion of the mix conforming to the FDA’s new definition of dietary fiber, claimed Simmons, who plans to (initially) scale up the technology in the US market, where the company has already put together a GRAS determination (which it plans to send to the FDA) and has attracted the most interest and investment.

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