Südzucker company Beneo began marketing Palatinose (Isomaltulose) following EU Novel Foods approval in 2006, and since then over 100 products had been launched using it.
Marketing manager Jens Böhm said that the ingredient was particularly popular in the beverage industry where the ingredient was popular as a healthy yet “essential glucose source”.
But the sugar-beet derived ingredient was not a rival to stevia, Böhm added: “Palatinose is an innovative ingredient which helps the beverage industry to meet consumers’ needs and responds to current trends such as balanced and sustained energy supply or naturally derived ingredients.”
Böhm described Palatinose as a bulk sweetener with mild sweetness that was fully digestible, meaning it could be used as a 1:1 replacement for sucrose without any undesirable side effects.
Sporting chance in US
Conversely, stevia only provided sweetness, 300 times higher than sucrose, Böhm said: “Thus it allows only very little amounts to be used in formulations. We don’t regard it as a rival for stevia but rather as an interesting synergy as Palatinose may provide the missing bulk for stevia.”
So what geographies were proving most receptive to the ingredient? “We are seeing an ever growing interest for Palatinose in the USA as a leading country for energy and sports beverages. Asia is following very closely as well as Western Europe.”
The US growth is reflected in the launch of Nth Degree’s Low GI drink (pictured below) this week, which uses Palatinose to provide slow release energy (glucose) over a longer timeframe.
Nth Degree said the ingredient had a low effect on normal blood glucose levels vis-à-vis higher glycemic index sweeteners – which entered the bloodstream more quickly but were used up faster – such as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), maltodextrin, glucose and sucrose.
Three university studies on its ‘performance drink’ also showed that Palatinose promoted of the body’s own fat oxidation during physical exercise and rest, the company added.
‘Toothfriendly’ sugar replacer
Böhm refused to be drawn on how much more expensive, if at all, Palatinose was compared to sucrose, stressing its position as a “premium product that provides nutritional and health benefits”.
Applications touted for Palatinose in the beverage space also include functional dairy products, tea and beer, and Böhm insisted there was interest in these areas.
“Only recently the German company HIPP launched a toothfriendly instant tea for kids with Palatinose. Additionally, breweries in Europe are considering the technical benefits Palatinose,” he said.
Brands can stress the tooth friendly aspect of Palatinose following a positive Article 13.1 health claim on sugar replacers (intense sweeteners including isomaltulose) from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published in April 2011.
As published in the EU Register on Nutrition and Health Claims, this permits the claim: “Consumption of foods/drinks containing other sugars contributes to the maintenance of tooth mineralisation.”
Böhm said “We haven’t seen a major upsurge of toothfriendly products but the growth potential of toothfriendly products is expanding as the range of products that can make a claim continues to grow, as per the HIPP tea launch.”