Sugar in moderation is not bad for us, and the human ability to detect sweetness is in our DNA, but because of its abundance in today’s food and drink, we get more than we should.
Over the years, companies have been creating sugar alternatives like stevia, while others have used technology to come up with new ways to sweeten foods to make them healthier. Some of them include oust, DuxMatocMycoTechnology and Sensient.
Startup in the field of food technology Joywell Foods has been in the sector for nearly a decade building a sweet protein platform and is moving closer to commercializing its first products, helped by a $25 million cash injection in Series B funding.
The round was led by Piva Capital with participation from B37 Ventures, Global Brain Corporation and existing investors Khosla Ventures, Evolv Ventures, IndieBio SOSV and Alumni Ventures.
As part of the investment, Joywell’s board of directors will include Piva partner and co-founder Adzmel Adznan. With the new investment, Joywell’s total funding has reached $38 million since the California-based company was founded in 2014 by Alan Pearlstein and Jason Ryder.
Joywell uses a patented microbial fermentation process to produce sweet proteins that are nearly identical to those found in exotic fruits and berries. While these proteins taste like sugar and are about 2,000 times sweeter than sugar, they do not affect blood sugar levels or the gut microbiome, CEO Ali Wing told TechCrunch.
“We’re biologically predisposed to sugar cravings, so that’s not something we should feel so bad about,” she added. “If you really look at consumption today, over 70% of consumers are actively seeking to reduce the amount of sugar in their diet, and daily added sugar is the culprit. We just need to solve it differently, and that’s the beauty of technology and what we do.”
When Wing joined the company about a year ago from the healthcare industry, Joywell only had one protein. The company now has about half a dozen proteins derived from fruits such as serendipity berries and katemfe fruit, and is working on a wide range of products. Wing said she can’t say exactly what those products are, but the company is already working on canned drinks and products like chocolate and, in fact, will be able to tap into any product category that includes sugar.
In addition to providing a healthier alternative, Joywell is also committed to being more sustainable, saying that “every percent reduction in sugar production saves approximately 650,000 acres of sugarcane fields.”
The company is still in the profit phase, so Wing couldn’t talk about growth numbers, but she said she joined to spearhead Joywell’s commercialization, and the new funding will accelerate research and development and scaling efforts.
“A lot of what I’ve done in the nine months here is a lot of consumer testing of different product formulations to get information for the launch,” she added. “The most important next steps are in the process of regulation, and we have several stages of regulation to go through. We also add proteins and will build a pipeline around them.”
Credit: techcrunch.com /