Overconsumption of sugar is responsible for illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and some cancers, a problem that’s hard to avoid because American food is full of the stuff. Many people and companies lean on alternatives to avoid sugar, but while research has proven that consumption of aspartame, sucralose and others is safe, many people have concerns about them. Stevia is another sugar alternative that’s made from leaves, but its odd aftertaste disqualifies it for use in many products.
This conundrum in the multi-billion-dollar sweetener industry presents an opportunity for Fooditive, which hopes to provide another option that is not only natural, but also reduces food waste. The Netherlands-based startup’s sweetener is made through a fermentation process that extracts fructose from apples and pears sourced from Dutch farmers that have brown spots or off colors and can’t be sold in stores, Fast Company reports. The company, founded by food scientist Moayad Abushokhedim, has also developed carrot waste into a preserving agent for soups, sauces and bakery items, as well as thickening agents made from banana skins and emulsifiers from potato extracts.
The company is following a B2B model and will distribute the sweetener to food and beverage companies across the Netherlands. There’s no word on when it will go on sale to the general public, although the company’s website says online ordering will be coming soon. Fooditive said it has plans to expand to Sweden, the U.K. and Abushokhedim’s native Jordan.
While Fooditive’s sweetener is novel, using food and food scraps that would otherwise be discarded is part of a growing trend of so-called upcycled foods. Other companies with this model include Barnana, which turns misshapen and over ripened bananas into snacks, ReGrained, a maker of bars made from spent grain leftover from brewing beer, and Sir Kensington, a vegan mayo maker that uses chickpea liquid.
Aside from introducing alternatives, companies are also introducing ways to “improve” sugar so we don’t need to consume too much of it. There’s DouxMatok, which aims to make the sugar we already consume hit our tongues more efficiently, and Nutrition Innovation, a technology company using near-infrared scanning to better refine sugar.
Startups are approaching the issue of humanity’s dangerous sugar addiction from multiple angles, so thankfully there are plenty of sweet solutions emerging.