With the low-carbohydrate market currently soaring in the US, the Danish firm Arla Food Ingredients and the inventor of tagatose Spherix are expecting strong growth for their sweetener in the US.
"It is very exciting to hear that Wal-Mart, the world's largest retail chain, will carry these new products," said Thomas W. Gantt, Spherix's CEO, "it reinforces our view that tagatose is on its way to becoming a major player in the sweetener market."
Patented by Spherix, Gaio tagatose is produced from milk sugar lactose. In 1996 Denmark's MD Foods - subsequently taken over by Arla Foods - acquired the rights to this low calorie sweetener with a prebiotic effect - it stimulates the beneficial bacteria in the digestive system - for use in foodstuffs. Today the product is manufactured and sold as Gaio tagatose for food and beverage uses under license by Arla Foods Ingredients.
The Pasco Beverage company's newly launched Light & Tasty juices that contain the tooth-friendly sweetener and bear the Gaio tagatose logo will be carried by WalMart as well as other retailers. The frozen fruit juices and ready-to-drink juices come in orange juice cocktail, apple, fruit punch, and lemonade flavours. The products will be sold under each retail chain's own label.
According to Spherix, the juices combine tagatose and the high intensity sweetener sucralose, and contain 45 per cent fewer calories and up to 70 per cent fewer carbohydrates than ordinary juice.
With low carbohydrate diets booming in the US thanks to diet guru Dr.Atkins, the market holds strong opportunities for food manufacturers and ingredients firms.
"Gaio tagatose offers a natural sweetener to customers who don't want sugar in their food," said Henrik Andersen, director, Arla Foods Ingredients.
Pushing the weight-loss advantages, last month Arla reported on a new study by Australian scientists that confirmed tagatose's low glycaemic (GI) response, an index increasingly used by dieters as a form of carbohydrate control. The GI is a numerical system of measuring how fast a food or ingredient triggers a rise in circulating blood glucose; the higher the GI, the greater the blood sugar response. A low GI food will cause a small rise in blood sugar levels, whereas a higher GI food may trigger a large increase.
"These results, well below that of competing sweeteners, may make foods and beverages with tagatose even more attractive to a weight-conscious public that increasingly embraces lowering carbohydrates to lose weight," said Dr. Gilbert V. Levin last month, executive officer for science at Spherix.
According to Spherix, the university stated that, compared to glucose, which had glycaemic and insulinaemic responses of 100 per cent, Gaio tagatose produced very low glycaemic and insulinaemic responses of only 3 per cent.
In October last year the European Commission gave the thumbs up to a joint venture between Danish/Swedish company Arla Foods Ingredients and German sugar giant Nordzucker, to bring tagatose to the marketplace.
The clearance came just a few months after the two companies christened their first tagatose plant for production of this full-bulk sweetener in Germany on the site of Nordzucker's sugar plant near Hanover. Both companies have high hopes for the product, which looks and tastes like sugar but contains only about a third of the calories.