Same Juice, Same Taste, But 30 Percent Less Sugar
There’s nothing like starting the day with a glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice.
The problem is that it contains five to eight teaspoons of sugar, nearly as much as can of Coke.
Technology has already been developed to reduce the sugar in fruit juices by mixing in additives, but the process also reduces its nutritional value, and most importantly, its taste.
An Israeli startup says it can halve the sugar content in orange juice without compromising on either.
The patented process filters the orange juice through a natural compound that physically extracts the sugar – and nothing else.
It doesn’t actually add anything to the orange juice itself – it only takes out the sugar with a special ingredient that looks like sand, though the company won’t disclose what it is.
“Our technology targets the disaccharides in the juice without harming the other ingredients,” says Yossi Sefi, Chief Technical Officer at Blue Tree Technologies.
“It is capable of locating the exact kind of sugar in orange juice, and removing it without harming the pulp, the vitamin C, the amino acids, or any other important ingredients.”
There are two kinds of sugars in natural juices: disaccharides, composed of two molecules of sugar, which occur in higher quantities, and monosaccharides, composed of one, which produce the aroma and mouthfeel associated with natural beverages like orange juice.
Blue Tree specifically targets the disaccharides in orange juice and other natural beverages.
“The consumption of sugar in the world right now is huge. And people are not aware that even in natural liquids, there is a lot of sugar. My friends think that since orange juice is natural, it’s healthy – but it’s not. If you drink orange juice every day, you’re consuming a lot of sugar.”
Sign up for our free weekly newsletterSubscribe
There are other startups that can reduce the sweetness of natural beverages. They incorporate enzymes, to break down the sugar content, but this results in an unpleasant aftertaste.
Blue Tree is signed with Priniv, a leading Israeli manufacturer of natural juices and nectars, and its first product – orange juice with 30 percent less sugar – is expected to hit the country’s shelves in the coming months.
The company says half of the consumers in a survey actually preferred the flavor of the reduced-sugar orange juice, and didn’t notice any difference in smell or texture.
Its technology is capable of reducing the sugar up to 50 percent, but at that point the juice will start tasting too sour.
That said, a reduction that significant could be requested by producers that cater to specific demographics, like diabetics. Blue Tree will reduce as much or as little sugar as is requested by its customers.
Blue Tree builds all of the equipment and the machinery itself, to be installed as an extra process in existing juice-squeezing plants in countries like Brazil, the US, China, South Africa, Morocco, and Spain.
And the startup, which is based in Kiryat Shmona, northern Israel, isn’t just tackling orange juice. It is also capable of reducing up to 80 percent of the lactose in milk without affecting its fat content or nutritional benefits.
Its next project is with two of Israel’s leading milk and dairy product manufacturers to produce reduced-lactose milk.
It aims to be used by producers of other juices as well, and even in wine and beer. Vineyard owners have also been turning to Blue Tree for its technology, as the warmer temperatures from climate change have been making their grapes sweeter.
The grapes are ripening faster, and building up more sugars, which also raises the alcohol content in wine and alters the taste.