Europe's largest dairy group Arla Foods and German sugar manufacturer Nordzucker have begun production of Gaio tagatose in a custom-built plant located near Hannover, Germany. The sweetener, which is extracted from the milk product lactose, has a similar production process to sugar.
The two companies have high hopes for the product, which looks and tastes like sugar but contains only about a third of the calories.
"Gaio Tagatose is a unique product and we firmly believe in its market potential," said Achim Fölster, director of the diversification division at Nordzucker. "Thanks to our scientists and engineers we managed to build an ISO 9001 certified GMP production facility within nine months, enabling us to meet world market requirements for high-end and stable quality."
Gaio Tagatose can be used in chocolate and breakfast cereal products without compromising the flavour. It can also be used as a flavour enhancer in products such as diet-carbonated drinks and chewing gum.
In addition, the sweetener is prebiotic, which means that it stimulates the beneficial bacteria in the digestive system. It is suitable for diabetics since it does not affect the glucose level in the blood.
The pioneering sweetener has been approved for sale in the US, and is expected to be approved in other markets as well. A number of US food manufacturers have already declared their intentions to make use of Gaio Tagatose.
"Over the past seven years we've accumulated considerable knowledge about Gaio Tagatose," said Arla Foods executive director Henrik Andersen. "We're delighted to announce the launch of Gaio Tagatose in the US market and we're confident that the project will become a success - for our customers as well as for us."
If demand for Gaio Tagatose reaches expected levels, a second plant will be built next to Arla Foods' largest cheese dairy at Taulov in Denmark.