Sweet open innovation challenge for SA ingredient vendors

An international FMCG firm in South Africa is on the hunt for a radically new form or complete alternative to crystal sugar as raw ingredient in industrial food production, and anything that might be labelled “non-nutritive sweetener” will not cut it. It has presented this public challenge to potential supplier-partners via The Open Innovation Hub in Pretoria. [Surely such an ingredient is a global holy grail! Ed]

The aim of the initiative is to address challenges of cost and consistent availability of sugar. The desired alternative should ideally increase the perception of sweetness (thereby reducing the amount of sugar in product formulation) and should provide similar technical and functional qualities to ensure the same final product attributes.

The company concerned, or challenge owner, is not seeking different suppliers of disaccharide crystal sugar, or marginal improvements in cost and availability.

A successful solution is more challenging than than substituting sugar with a non-nutritiive (natural or artificial) sweetener, which in itself may later customer perceptions, fails to offer the same ingredient characteristics of crystal sugar, and which  may introduce additional complications in regards to regulatory requirments such as product labelling.

Business opportunity: Become FMCG production operation in Sub-Saharan Africa, with potential for integration into the global supply chain for the entire group.

Technology maturity: Preference is for late stage  solutions, ready for testing in food tasting and quality processes. If at an early stage of readiness (e.g. post of-concept stage) proposals will be considered if sufficient data is available to demonstrate and validate scientific claims.

Key specifications:
The proposed crystal sugar alternative should offer or match all of the following:
• Provide similar taste perception in final product s to the current taste of crystal sugar;
• Provide similar functional thickening properties as currently used crystal sugar in cooked product;
• Provide similar functional preservation properties as currently used crystal sugar;
• Maintain product stability for up to 24 months shelf life under ambient and/or refrigerated conditions;
• Raw material to be in compliance with all relevant national legislation as published under South African Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act , 1972 (Act 54 of 1972 ) ;
• Raw material should be absent of common allergens;
• Raw material should not be genetically modified;
• Raw material should be absent of additives not typical to sugar, as far as possible; and
• Supplied as a final raw material that is not legally declared as a “non – nutritive sweetener”.

Deadline: 1 November 2014

The Innovation Hub: For all the details, click here