Research & Development
Information on the technology & process
The Plantzap® process technology enables the manufacturing of a base by physical separation of sugar away from a juice rich in ion electrolytes such as potassium, magnesium and small quantities of sodium, as well as other minor cell constituents. The amount of sugar (glucose + fructose) going into the base can be controlled between 0 and 2% and the electrolyte base concentrated 30-40 times under the appearance of a clear liquid concentrate.
The Department of Agriculture Fisheries & Forestry Queensland (DAFFQ) has appointed NNP to commercialise PlantZap® globally. NNP has, in turn, been working directly with a flavour house and BMC to establish dialogue with regional and global beverage companies in key beverage markets around the world.
Once the first batches of PlantZap® were produced at the DAFFQ pilot plant in 2009, beverage formulations were evaluated and developed by a flavour house. To date, flavour house continues developing unique and appropriate flavour systems to be combined with PlantZap® to develop pleasant tasting RTD beverages.
Another important component of the PlantZap® production process is the significant benefits to sugar mill producers: the filtration process for the extraction of the concentrate produces a juice stream which requires less energy for clarification and crystallisation. This translates into better quality sugar produced more efficiently.
It is widely documented that Western diets, both in developed and developing nations, are quite abundant in sugar and sodium. This has translated into widespread obesity, hypertension, diabetes and other degenerative health conditions in many developed as well as developing nations. For instance, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has specifically linked the consumption of sugar drinks to poor diet quality, weight gain, obesity and type-2 diabetes, among others. According to an article published by Forbes Magazine in June 2013, the American Medical Association has declared obesity as a disease.
Carbonated soft drinks have become the most visible target to blame the disproportionate consumption of carbohydrates, as well as artificial sweeteners and other ingredients whose conspicuous consumption has been deemed as unhealthy. Other beverages categories often perceived as healthy, such as fruit juices, fruit beverages, sports drinks and enhanced waters, among others, also represent an important source of empty calories that outweigh the potential benefits of the fruit and or functional ingredient content. Other beverages that often bear significant amounts of sugar calories and/or scores of artificial ingredients are energy drinks, Ready To Drink (RTD) coffee and RTD tea, among others.
Large food and beverage manufacturers are being scrutinised on the above by different stake holders, including opinion leaders, government agencies, consumer groups and the press, among others on their role with respect to obesity and other health problems associated with high calorie/high sugar diets. The use of PlantZap® as a drink base is complementary to the response of manufacturers to the concerns of consumers and authorities. As such, beverage brand owners' level of interest on the use of PlantZap® as ingredient has been very positive.
At the same time, beverage companies around the world are trying to find ways to enhance the functionality of products and/or cut caloric content and/or minimise the use of artificial ingredients. PlantZap® represents a long term viable solution to several issues being faced by the global beverage industry:
- Its manufacturing is free from chemical processing; it results from the physical separation of components naturally contained in sugar cane and which are normally wasted in the molasses as per the traditional sugar production process;
- Enables the possibility of manufacturing beverages with a fraction of the utilised sugar, without sacrificing on taste, consistency or mouth feel;
- Enables the manufacturing of functional beverages (e.g., sports drinks) without the need to add artificial components;
- Can be used to supplement/enhance the quality of the flavour of alternative sweeteners (e.g., Stevia);
- Represents a cost effective alternative that can be utilised across different beverage categories;
- It is a sustainable and environmentally friendly output from the sugar cane processing.
Over the past 12 months NNP, a flavour house and BMC have undertaken a significant effort to bring PlantZap® to the attention of major global and regional beverage companies in North America, Latin America, Western Europe, Australia, China and India. NNP, together with our flavour house, has produced and provided samples of different beverage products utilising PlantZap® and the feedback has been very encouraging. As the Calibration Plant starts producing steady quality PlantZap®, NNP and a flavour house will be able to perfect formulations and/or work on a wider range of applications.
The broad concept of a natural electrolyte base and the method to manufacture it from fruits and vegetable juices were developed by DAFFQ scientists under the project "New Industrial Technologies for Functional Extract Product" over a period of three years (2007-2010) These efforts resulted in an innovative process for the production of natural electrolytes from sugar cane. This ingredient base has been trademarked as PlantZap® registered by the DAFFQ with IP Australia for 10 years from June 10, 2010. The PlantZap® concept and process for production is protected by an international patent application logged with IP Australia.
PlantZap®'s most direct application is as a natural electrolyte drink base derived from sugar cane juice with multiple applications for beverages, including but not limited to different beverage categories such as:
- Sports drinks;
- RTD tea;
- Dairy products;
- Carbonated soft drinks