China-based sucralose manufacturer JK Sucralose is investing in a research institute and factory for its half-sugar project, which will be completed in the second half of 2020.
Half-sugar is a combination of sucralose and white sugar, that is five times sweeter than sugar. The RMB 200 million (US$30 million) investment will comprise research, formulation and increase production efficiency.
The company hopes this project can help achieve and meet the goals of the government-backed Healthy China 2030 Initiative.
“By reducing the sugar consumption of the people of China, we hope to reduce the rate of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity within China, which is currently on an uptrend. At the same time with this project, we hope to promote a healthier China while preserving the balanced sweet taste of sugar in everyone’s lives,” Alex An, CEO and founder of JK Sucralose told FoodNavigator-Asia.
Currently, the company’s sucralose production capacity is 1,000 tons per year. The new factory is expected to increase its capacity to 4,000 tons.The first half-sugar product is expected to be released by the second half of 2020.
An told us there are many low-calorie sweetener products in the market currently, but argued most of these contain an artificial or natural non-sugar sweetener, combined with the likes of dextrose and maltodextrin.
“There are currently no products containing a combination of sucralose and sugar. Our half sugar product will fill this niche,” An added.
He believes the half-sugar product will impart a better taste and mouth-feel compared to other sweetener products.
The half-sugar product will come with varying sweetness levels and can be used in beverages, cooking and baking.
Sugar consumption in China
The average sugar consumption per person in China is around 1.3kg, much lower than the world average.
An told us: “In general, Chinese people do not consume many artificially sweetened products or soft drinks compared to the western world. Soft drinks and beverages are not part of an average person’s diet in China, choosing instead, water, tea, and other beverages
”However, sugar is still a big part of Chinese cuisine.
“Sugar is used to sweeten culinary dishes, add extra layers of flavor, stew meats, as well as for dessert and baked goods. Typically, the consumption of sugar in southern China is higher than that of northern China. Currently, alternative sweeteners are slowly being substituted for sugar in many commercial products, however, most consumers still prefer sugar overall,” An explained.
Sugar capital of China
The company recently signed a cooperation agreement with the government of Chongzuo, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China. According to An, Chongzuo is the sugar capital of China with sugarcane as its main staple crop.
Chongzuo’s hot and humid weather year-round as well as fertile soil, makes it suitable for sugarcane agriculture. About 19 million tons of sugarcane are expected to be harvested and 2.28 million tons of sugar produced in 2019/2020.
An said these factors contributed to Chongzuo’s status as the sugar production base of China: “As sugarcane is cultivated en mass in the region, many sugar industrial facilities have located there (Chongzuo).”