05 Jul 2023 — Israel-based food tech start-up CarobWay will present its clean label sugar replacer made from whole carob fruit in gummy and energy bar prototype formats at the IFT Chicago trade show (July 17 to 19). The business highlights the sweetener’s mild, caramel-like flavor and low glycemic index (GI) due to the presence of D-pinitol.
The alternative sweetener is a one-to-one sugar replacer. However, the company notes that “you can’t always replace 100% of the sugar due to carob’s characteristic flavor.” Udi Alroy, CEO and co-founder of CarobWay, tells Food Ingredients First.
“It doesn’t appeal to every type of product,” but example applications include iced tea sugars, energy bars and filled chocolates. Its mild and “pleasing” caramel flavor allows CarobWay to “plug it easily” into most food and beverages.
The carob sweetener is derived from whole carob fruit, a nutritious and ancient crop that grows in arid regions. CarobWay uses a proprietary process to extract the sweetness from the deseeded pods, creating a syrup that can be used in various food and beverage applications. The obtained sweetener is clean label, vegan, gluten-free and non-GMO.
“The ingenuity of this product is the simplicity of its use. The extraction methodology and food tech applications provide us with the ability to adjust flavor to formulations around the world, not only around the Mediterranean where people are more used to the flavor,” Alroy underscores.
Breaking apart the carob
Alroy explains that Carobway takes the carob and breaks it apart into three different “families.” One is the seeds, which are used to make food thickeners, such as locust bean gum and also protein. The second family is the low GI sugars.
“The third family is the fibers. Most of the fibers in the carob are insoluble fibers. And in conjunction with polyphenols, we can make it a very high prebiotic powder source,” he notes.
“The main reason that we didn’t take out the polyphenols is that the combination of the fibers with the polyphenols has a much better effect on the gut and much better effect on the microbiome.”
D-pinitol: The secret ingredient
The sweetener contains D-pinitol, a plant compound that has a mild sweetness and acts like insulin in the body. D-pinitol can help lower blood sugar levels, prevent Alzheimer’s disease, fight cancer, reduce inflammation and boost immunity and liver health, among other effects, claims the business.
The sweetener traces of soluble fibers and polyphenols also benefit the gut and the heart.
D-pinitol, which has a sweetness of about half the one of sucrose, naturally occurs in plants and has the highest naturally occurring concentration in carob.
The business explains that carob has high carbon storage capabilities and flourishes in marginal lands, supporting ecosystem diversity and even preventing wildfires.
“We are vertically integrated; we cultivate the carob from scratch. It’s a highly sustainable crop,” according to Alroy.
Furthermore, carob uses little water, it is not labor intensive in its cultivation and is “bee-friendly.”
“We are trying to do whatever we can to have a highly sustainable product. It’s climatized to the area, we’re using Israeli carobs. These crops are already acclimatized in Israel, where we grow them. We don’t have to adapt different crops from other countries into our country and we already have the raw material domestically.”
The company plans to plant 500,000 trees in the next few years.
By Marc Cervera, with additional reporting by Missy Green
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