FoodTech start-up Better Juice, announces its highly successful completion of a series of pilot trials for reducing simple sugars in natural berry and other fruit juices. In partnership with GEA Group, one of the largest suppliers for food processing technology, Better Juice hosted several prominent forest fruit juice manufacturers from the EU, the US, Australia, and Brazil to give their personal brands a sugar-reduction makeover using their groundbreaking sugar-reduction technology.
The trials were conducted at the pilot unit established last year in GEA’s innovation center in Ahaus, Germany. Accommodating the GEA Better Juice Sugar Converter Skid, the site is equipped with continuous flow columns containing Better Juice’s sugar-reducing beads. During the trials, the team was able to reduce the simple sugar content by 30% and 50% across a range of forest fruit juices, including strawberry, cherry, and blueberry, while preserving their characteristic flavours and textures.
“Forest fruit juices contain 10% or more sugar, with berry and cherry juices comprised of 10%-20% sucrose and the remainder fructose and glucose,” explains Eran Blachinsky, co-founder and co-chief executive officer of Better Juice. “Our technology reduces the loads of all three of these simple sugars. This will allow more people to enjoy berry-based juices.”
Forming Better Juice’s proprietary sugar-reduction beads are non-GMO microorganisms that naturally convert the juice’s composition of sucrose, glucose, and fructose into prebiotic oligosaccharides and other non-digestible fibers, while retaining their natural complement of vital nutrients.
“By implementing a ‘plug-and-play’ approach, we were able to produce fruit drinks with the same nutritional value and mouthfeel as the original products, with only a slightly toned-down sweetness,” reports Gali Yarom, Better Juice co-founder and co-chief executive officer. “The feedback was most promising, with several companies expressing a strong interest in continuing to work with us to bring these products to market. We are currently in advanced discussions with several major US-based fruit juice companies to install our technology in their juice production systems. We project sugar-reduced forest fruit juices will reach the shelves early next year.”
The treatment process proved successful for both clear NFC (not from concentrate) juices and dense concentrates as well as pulp-retained juices. A significant number of juice manufacturers worldwide use concentrates to reduce shipping costs by evaporating the water and adding it back in at the destination during bottling.
Forest fruit juices are naturally abundant in pulp, which is why many juice companies strive to retain these fiber-rich fruit solids in their products. Better Juice’s technology has been designed to handle pulp and ensure it remains in the juice, eliminating the need for filtering. This not only helps to preserve the nutritional benefits of the fruit, but also delivers a satisfying texture that consumers love.
“Since the opening of the pilot facility last year, we have hosted dozens of companies from all over the world to test their juice brands on our technology as well as on other fruit-based products, such as jams,” adds Michael Harenkamp, sales support engineer for Non-Alcoholic Beverages for GEA. “We are excited by the emerging demand for naturally sugar-reduced juices in the marketplace. Some of the participants are major global players who have expressed genuine enthusiasm about our combined solution and the prospect of giving their products a new competitive edge with lowered-sugar fruit juices that are still as nutritious and refreshingly delicious.”
Better Juice was founded in 2018 as one of the first start-ups to be nurtured by The Kitchen FoodTech Hub. “Better Juice brings a new hope for juice manufacturers and consumers, by reversing the perception of natural fruit juices as overly sugary products and turning juices into better-for-you beverages,” says Amir Zaidman, chief business officer of The Kitchen Hub and a Better Juice board member. “The company offers a truly better juice product by reducing the sugars while maintaining their natural profile of vitamins, minerals and fibers.”