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Scotland's on the hunt for sugar alternatives

Scotland’s on the hunt for sugar alternatives

Food and drink manufacturers across the UK aim to reduce the sugar content in their processed food by 20% between 2016 and 2020, this means the market is wide open for Scottish innovation.

The consumer is more aware of the impact that diet can have on health than ever before, and is increasingly looking at the sugar content in products before buying. With this in mind, and with the recent sugar tax on soft drinks introduced by the Scottish Government, there’s definitely an opportunity for Scotland’s food and drink businesses to explore the potential of sugar alternatives.

The sugar alternative market

Many food manufacturers globally are showing interest in making their products healthier.

The Californian-based start-up Miraculex, founded in 2014, developed a zero-calorie sweetener made from West African miracle berries. The fruit contains the protein miraculin, which supporters claim is 2,000 times as sweet as sugar, and acts like a taste modifier, tricking the taste buds into making sour foods taste sweet.

The company produces the miraculin protein in large amounts by inserting DNA from the berry’s proteins into the genetic code of lettuce. The process turns ordinary lettuce into a miraculin producing factory, by using a hydroponic system for growing the plants.

The company is still awaiting FDA approval, but it’s working on commercialising its first product soon. It's also exploring another plant-based sweetener called brazzein.


Another company in this marketplace is MycoTechnology. They’ve developed the product ClearTaste, which uses enzymes of fermented mushrooms to reduce bitterness, sourness and astringency found in food and drink products.

As a lot of products contain bitter flavours, which are covered up by adding salt or sugar, the natural and organic bitter blocker could potentially reduce sugar content in food by 50-90%.

MycoTechnology is planning to launch its product across Europe this year.

Next step for your business

Tackling the negative affects that some foods can have on health is a major aim of the Scottish Government, with the high sugar content in certain foods being seen as a major challenge to overcome. There’s lots of product development happening across the world that’s focused on healthier products, so there are opportunities for Scottish food and drink manufactures to invest in innovative sugar alternatives that will reduce the sugar content in foods and drinks.

If you're interested in opportunities in the produce and health sector, or another part of the food and drink sector, our innovation team can help you realise your company's potential.

We can help you to innovate and improve your product development, your processes, or your workforce.

Innovation support for Scottish food and drink companies

Make Innovation Happen is a single source of innovation support for businesses involved in the Scottish food and drink supply chain.

Scotland Food & Drink, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands & Islands Enterprise work in partnership across academia, the public sector and the industry to deliver a comprehensive innovation support service.

Make Innovation Happen can help your business by providing:

  • Access to 'connectors', who can offer support, advice and mentoring, as well as direction to appropriate support
  • Ideas and insights on how to innovate through articles and events
  • Funding through the Collaborative Innovation Fund
  • Help to access other innovation services provided by Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Interface and others

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