Wrigley has filed a patent to enhance the sweetness of sucralose in chewing gum using encapsulated sweetener enhancers - a method that could help it to reduce costs.
It its patent application filed this month it said that the sweetness of sucralose and other sweeteners could be improved by sweetener enhancers that were pre-treated with an encapsulating agent.
“One concern with using sucralose in chewing gum is the cost of the sucralose,” said Wrigley in its patent application.
In 2011, US food companies struggled to get hold of Chinese sucralose supplies , but prices for the sweetener have since fallen and major supplier Tate & Lyle has forecast a 15% drop in prices this year.
Sweetener enhancers can be added to chewing gum to boost the sweetness of sweeteners such as sucraloses, meaning less is required. But Wrigley said that known enhancers often failed to produce the intended effect.
Wrigley said: “It was discovered that by treating the sweetness enhancer so as to modify its rate of release from chewing gum that the sweetness enhancer was effective to increase the perceived sweetness of the T1 R2 sweetener [sucralose and other sweeteners] in the chewing gum.”
“This sweetness enhancer, when modified according to the present invention, gives a chewing gum having a controlled-release sweetness enhancement, giving a highly consumer-acceptable chewing gum product,” it continued.
Wrigley said that a sweetness enhancer could be selected from a group consisting of 4-amino-5,6-dimethylthieno[2,3-d]pyrimidin-2(1 H)-one and salts, solvates, and esters.
Under its method, Wrigley said the sweetener enhancer was physically modified by mixing it with an encapsulating agent, preferably polyvinyl acetate, in order to modify its rate of release.
It said the enhancer was then added to the chewing gum formulation at levels up to 0.2% to amplify the sweetness of sweeteners such as sucralose.
Wrigley filed the patent under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), an international patent law treaty that allows a uniform patent to be considered by signatory national or regional authorities.