Sugar alternatives are the new delicacy for food tech.


Here in America, we love sweet things. We use more sugar in sodas, candies or ice cream than any other country.

All this sugar consumption can lead to health issues such as diabetes, which has led to the emergence of a huge sugar substitute industry, which offers artificial substitutes such as aspartame or sucralose and such as stevia and monk fruit.

But as it turns out, even low or no calorie options sometimes come with their own health risks. For example, artificial sweeteners like sucralose and saccharin can cause blood sugar spikes, damage your gut health, and even become toxic when exposed to high temperatures. And while many have embraced natural alternatives like stevia and monk fruit sweeteners in recent years, recent studies have shown that the sugar alcohol erythritol, which is often added to stevia and monk fruit sweeteners, has been linked to heart attacks and strokes.

Despite these problems, consumers around the world continue to consume sugar substitutes. In fact, the sugar substitute market is expected to grow from $18 billion in 2022 to $28.5 billion in 2032, fueled by increasing demand for healthy lifestyles and growing sugar alternatives in Asia.

This continued demand for sugar replacement can give great value to those innovations that can create sweet tasting alternatives to all current offerings. This week, The Spoon includes two of those startups, creating new sugar alternatives that represent a significant departure from what’s currently on the market.

First, there’s Obli, who discovered how to sweeten tea and chocolate using a sweet protein called brazine. Although brazein is a delicious protein found in the West African oubli fruit, it is incredibly expensive and difficult to extract. Oobli (which takes its name from the fruit) has found a way to create a chemically similar version of Brazine through microbial fermentation. They released their chocolate line earlier this year and launched their sweet tea this week.

Another company we covered this week is Incredo, which doesn’t replace sugar but maximizes its sweetening properties by reducing its impact on the body. The company does this by combining cane or beet sugar with a natural carrier that boosts the sweetness when it hits the sweet taste receptors on the tongue. According to Incredo, their sugar reduction solution results in 30-50% less added sugar in food.

As I wrote earlier this week, I had a chance to try Oobli peach flavored tea on stage at the SynBioBeta conference, and I think the company may have a hit on its hands. It tasted as good as sweet desserts!

If you’ve had a chance to try one of these new sugar alternatives — or know of one we didn’t cover — drop us a line!

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Is Amazon serious about underground delivery?

In the year In 2017, Amazon was awarded a patent for something one might find in a science fiction novel – underground package delivery.

And while they seem like they’ve ripped a page out of a Hugh Howey novel, the argument for underground shipping tunnels — no carbon emissions, reduced traffic, etc. — makes sense.

But even so, the idea is still a bit off, and for the next few years, there was no sign that the company was serious about the idea.Last month, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos was seen testing a prototype for underground delivery. A home solution from Pipedream Labs.

Spoon readers may remember Pipedream Labs as a company with big plans to deliver food or other goods to homes around cities. The company is working with Wendy’s and other restaurants in the near future — you’ve got to pay the bills — but it still hopes to build the grand vision of a citywide underground delivery network.

Actually, by The latest twitter linePipedream CTO Cannon Reeves said the company is currently developing a system that will bring home builders to a master-planned community.

Check out the full article on pipeDream Labs here.

Google wants to end single-use plastic, so it’s calling for new ideas

We all know plastic is bad for the environment, but despite all the videos of plastic bottles and wrappers floating in oceans and piling up in landfills, billions of single-use containers are used and thrown away every year.

Google decided to do something about this, so it launched a call for food companies with sustainable packaging to submit their products to Google’s Single Use Plastics Challenge. According to the company, Google has announced that it will test products that meet state and federal standards and complete the Google Food Program standards at the company’s cafes and micro kitchens in the US. Finalists will have the opportunity to pitch their products to Google and “leading global food operators” at Google’s US offices.

Reading the fine print, Google is prioritizing reusable serving utensils and packaging but accepting packaging concepts for edible, fiber-based or non-lined serving utensils/packaging. The company accepts post-consumer recycled packaging for some categories, and while it does accept glass and aluminum, it makes it clear that these are “non-selective”. Plastic, bio-based, biodegradable, multi-layer or PFAS-containing products do not need to apply.

Although large corporations have made progress in recent years in eliminating plastic in the form of straws and drink containers, a whole lot of plastic is still used every day in food service and cafeterias. Google’s efforts also highlight food service plastic in all its forms, including plastic utensils and packaging, a bigger problem that gets less attention than plastic bottles, straws and cutlery.

For those interested in applying for Google’s Single-Use Plastic Challenge, you need to hurry as the deadline is May 30.

Restaurant Tech

Wow Bao launches ‘Hot Buns Club’, a $99/year Web3 loyalty program.

Wow Bao, a digital Asian food startup that has expanded nationally in recent years with a property-light virtual restaurant model, announced the launch of its NFT program last week. The new NFTs, called Digital CollectaBaos, will serve as proof of membership to a new super-fan tier in the company’s Bao Bucks loyalty program, called the Hot Buns Club.

Wow Bao released a vision of Web 3 last November, which will eventually include more far-fetched concepts like Metaverse vending machines, but will begin enrolling dedicated customers through an NFT-powered subscription program before taking their Steam Bread fully into the virtual realm. $99 per year.

Initial benefits for Wow Bao NFT holders include 10% off delivery orders, double Bao Bucks points on purchases, 10% off merchandise orders and contest giveaways.

The Wow Bao NFT program is built on the Polygon network, a proof of stake consensus algorithm that its proponents say is more environmentally friendly than many other Ethereum-based digital currencies. Despite the support of blockchain in the new trust supertier, Wow Bao – at least for the time being – downplayed the crypto angle of all the bad press the technology received last year, instead positioning it as a digital collection with associated membership benefits.

Head over to the scoop to access the full story.

Finalists for NASA’s Deep Space Food Challenge include an astronaut stove and air protein technology.

Last week, NASA announced the finalists for the final phase of the Deep Space Food Challenge, designed to help these agencies explore and better understand how to feed people in space. The US space agency has awarded $750,000 in the second round of the Deep Space Food Challenge, with the winning teams competing in the finals and $1.5 million in prizes.

The start of the third phase marks the end of a two-year competition that saw hundreds of applicants whittled down to 28 in the first round and 11 finalists, with eight companies competing in Phase 3 as of last week.

The following five American teams are among the eight finalists in Stage 3.

  • Air company Brooklyn, New York invented systems and processes for turning air, water, electricity, and yeast into food.
  • Interstellar laboratory Merritt Island, Florida, developed a modular bioregenerative system to grow fresh microgreens, vegetables, mushrooms and insects.
  • Kernel Deltec America Cape Canaveral, Florida, developed a method of growing ingredients based on mushrooms.
  • Nolux The Riverside Californian created ingredients based on plants and mushrooms, mimicking the photosynthesis that occurs in nature.
  • SATED (Safe Device, Neat, Efficient and Sweet) Boulder, Colorado, has developed a space cooker that allows astronauts to prepare a variety of meals from ingredients with long shelf lives.

Read the full story Here on the spoon.


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