Unless your home is a remote cave, you’ll know there are tons of questions around how to best reduce the amount of sugar we consume—especially when it comes to the added sugar that’s in everything from soup to salad dressings.
Bayn Europe is betting on technology to tackle the process of reducing sugar in our food, from the research and data collection stages to product development and marketing.
The Stockholm, Sweden-based company has worked since 2009 to develop new formulations that will lead to “sugar-reduction solutions” for the food and beverage industry. Now, as Food Navigator noted last week, Bayn has developed a cloud-based platform that addresses the various stages of that sugar reformulation process.
Called SugarReduced, which is also the company’s online community, the platform will be a “one-stop-shop” for product developers, marketers, and purchasers in the food and beverage industry. It has four major functions:
- E-data is a bank of information on ingredients, legislation, and recipes.
- E-planning software lets users calculate nutrition and sensory data before product development takes place.
- E-development software allows for post-development analysis on things like taste and flavor.
- Ordering is the platform’s e-commerce system that handles purchasing, logistics, and payment transactions.
Clear from all those steps is the fact that sugar reformulation involves much more than finding different ingredients to replace the taste, texture, and other properties of sugar. That may be one reason there’s much less movement than you might expect towards replacing a substance routinely called “the devil.”
“Today, the entire food chain is built upon added sugar,” Bayn CEO Lucy Dahlgren told Food Navigator. “[Reformulation] causes a major change from both a technical and commercial level. The food supply chain is broken and the market is disordered, which causes the difficulties to replace the added sugar.”
In other words, you can’t just start pushing “alt-sugar” and expect the entire food industry change to gracefully adapt. For one thing, according to Dahlgren, there’s no one single ingredient that can accurately replace sugar. Reformulation has to account for not just physical properties like taste and texture, but also things like cost efficiency.
An even more challenging problem is how to deal with Big Sugar—that is, the political powerhouse known as the sugar industry, which also happens to have a pretty shady track record that includes false advertising, paying people to stay silent, and outright lies. Despite that, it keeps an iron grip on the food and beverage industry, particularly in the U.S.
And while Bayn is aimed more at Europe than North America, its cloud platform has the potential to answer the question of sugar reduction on a worldwide scale.
Right now, Bayn is engaging with leading IT companies in Europe and China. A prototype of the platform has been developed and full launch is slated for 2020.
It’s not certain if we’ll see any iteration of this platform in the U.S.. However, this side of the Atlantic has numerous companies currently at work on sugar-reduction or sugar-replacement products. Natur Research Ingredients and Miraculex both work with the brazzein protein, which comes from the African oubli plant. The latter is also experimenting with the miraculin protein, which makes sour things taste sweet for around half an hour.
Other companies, such as Senomyx, take a cue from the pharmaceutical industry by testing ingredients to find new sweetening compounds.
Results from these efforts vary, and even were one of these companies to nail the chemical aspect, they would still face the challenge of cost, time to market, and all the other things Bayn’s platform will reportedly address.
Still, considering that sugar was once promoted as healthy by the government, and that not terribly long ago Big Sugar was paying off scientists, the growing noise around sugar reduction is heartening. Consumers continue the call for transparency. Platforms like Bayn help to answer that by providing a place to find reliable information about sugar. At the very least, they can keep the conversation going while we wait for Big Sugar to get properly knocked from its perch.