The project began two weeks ago and the first phase will take one year. However, it will take longer to turn the technology into a full scale commercial product.
Green modified carbohydrates
Speaking to ConfectioneryNews.com, Ronald Visschers, TNO business line manager of food innovations said: “Unlike previous research that focused on protein based solutions we will explore green modified carbohydrates as a new ingredient.
“Our modification portfolio offers new opportunities to create the desired rheological properties in a biodegradable gum base.”
In November last year, Irish researchers patented a process for a non-sticky, biodegradable gum that uses cereal proteins to replace rubber gum bases.
UK firm Revolymer also recently obtained EU novel Foods approval for its Rev7 degradable gum.
“Protein based solutions have been explored previously. The success of these attempts has been limited and also Rev7 has its limitations,” said Visschers.
“The industry is already looking for a next generation and that is why they challenged TNO to start this development,” he said.
Challenges and investment
According to Visschers, the biggest challenge would be to develop a gum with a long lasting chewy texture.
He did not put a figure on how much money was being devoted to the project, but said it was a “serious investment” from both the industry and TNO.
Open to all (with caveats)
Visschers added that any development would be open to the industry.
“It is not the strategy of TNO to shield innovations from the market,” he said.
“However parties that invest in this technology will have to benefit first. If the technology becomes really successful we will offer it in license as soon as possible, but the other partners will obviously have a say in this.”
“At this moment we are still negotiating with potential other partners to enter in this project,” he said.