The headquarters of EFKO innovative projects in Dubai announced the completion of sweet proteins certification in the United Arab Emirates. This opens up an opportunity to start supplying healthy sugar alternatives to Emirati enterprises, primarily for the production of confectionery and soft drinks.
Naturally sweet proteins were discovered at the end of the twentieth century in equatorial African plants. They are about 2 thousand times sweeter than sugar.
Their content in plants is so low that extraction would be economically pointless. However, a biotechnological solution – lab reconstruction – is possible.
It took EFKO two years to succeed in getting brazzein sweet protein in laboratory settings. Industrial technology is fully developed at Biruch Innovation Center.
The project investments currently amount to 1 billion rubles. The first deliveries to the UAE may start in the fall of 2023.
The high interest in healthy sugar alternatives in the UAE is explained by the fact that the Middle East has one of the highest rates of diabetes mellitus in the world. In addition, due to its climatic conditions, the region is highly dependent on exported agricultural products. The UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment considers sweet proteins to have the potential to respond to two challenges at once: a diabetes mellitus pandemic and food shortages.
One gram of sweet protein is equally sweet as two kilograms of sugar. At the same time, protein is not just a sugar substitute. It does not cause an insulin response in the blood. This means that it creates opportunities to address the issue of sweets for diabetic patients.
EFKO believes that the certification of sweet protein in the UAE being one of the first in the world is a courageous and useful step towards our healthy future.
At the moment, the volume of sugar consumption in the Middle East is estimated at 16 million tons per year. In the coming 5-7 years, the company expects to replace 10% of this market. This will require only 400 tons of sweet protein. Previously, we are talking about the market capacity of $ 800 million.
Currently, corporate R&D centers continue tests of sweet proteins in various formulations. In drinks, we are already talking about the possibility of replacing sugar in the ratio of 1 to 10,000, in sweets – so far in the ratio of 1 to 500. And subsequently, making the cost of protein sweetness comparable to the traditional one becomes a zone for further growth.