Fooditive, a based Netherlands company founded by food scientist Moayad Abushokhedim, is turning food waste into a sweetener which is uses 3rd grade apples, pears, along with the pieces of fruit that are unfit for supermarkets, and extracts the natural fructose through a fermentation process, and makes all that into a zero calorie natural sweetener. This new innovation contributes to the European food industry and more sustainable way of feeding the world.
Regular cane sugar is the cause of global health problems, and its cultivation is taking an environmental toll, too, requiring intense water use and causing soil erosion and pollution from processing sugarcane. Natural sweeteners like honey have their own complications. Many people and companies lean on alternatives to avoid sugar, but while research has proven that consumption of aspartame, sucralose and others is safe, many people have concerns about them. Stevia is another sugar alternative that’s made from leaves, but its odd aftertaste disqualifies it for use in many products.
Current sugar substitutes are considered a growing environmental hazard; artificial sweeteners such as sucralose and aspartame, found in Splenda and Equal, aren’t absorbed by our bodies nor are completely removed by wastewater treatment plants, meaning these sweeteners end up in rivers and oceans, potentially harming aquatic plant and animal life.
This conundrum in the multi-billion-dollar sweetener industry presents an opportunity for Fooditive, which hopes to provide another option that is not only natural, but also reduces food waste. The Netherlands-based startup’s sweetener is made through a fermentation process that extracts fructose from apples and pears sourced from Dutch farmers that have brown spots or off colors and can’t be sold in stores.
“Our products really provide the food and beverage producers with the ability to have a clean label, a green label, and show people what’s in their food,” says Gijs Gieles, Fooditive spokesperson. Right now, the company is working in the business-to-business market, partnering with a third-party food industry company called Bodec to get its sustainable sweetener into Dutch products. Gieles says it’s already being used by a Dutch beverage company, though he couldn’t name specific brands.
The company is following a B2B model and will distribute the sweetener to food and beverage companies across the Netherlands. There’s no word on when it will go on sale to the general public, although the company’s website says online ordering will be coming soon. Fooditive said it has plans to expand to Sweden, the U.K. and Abushokhedim’s native Jordan.
While Fooditive’s sweetener is novel, using food and food scraps that would otherwise be discarded is part of a growing trend of so-called upcycled foods. Other companies with this model include Barnana, which turns misshapen and over ripened bananas into snacks, ReGrained, a maker of bars made from spent grain leftover from brewing beer, and Sir Kensington, a vegan mayo maker that uses chickpea liquid.
Beyond the sweetener, Fooditive also makes all-natural preserving agents for things like sauces, soups, and bakery items out of carrot waste, thickening agents from banana skins, and emulsifiers from potato extracts. The company is collaborating with Rotterdam Circulair, a Netherlands company focused on reusing and recycling waste, with the goal of establishing a circular economy in the city of Rotterdam by 2030.