Conagen Debuts Thaumatin Protein Sweeteners

The thaumatin proteins were developed from Conagen’s peptide production platform.
The thaumatin proteins were developed from Conagen’s peptide production platform.

Conagen has announced the scale-up production of two high-intensity sweeteners, thaumatin I and thaumatin II. The development will expand commercial partner Sweegen’s sugar reduction solutions of zero-sugar natural sweeteners.

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Thaumatin is a group of proteins found in the fruits of the tropical plant Thaumatococcus daniellii. Each protein, thaumatin I and thaumatin II, varies slightly in sweetness profiles. Both proteins have been evaluated as 100,000 times sweeter than sugar on a molar basis and 3,000 times sweeter on a weight basis. The high sweetness factor can translate into a strategic cost-effective sugar reduction solution for brands seeking to get the most out of a natural sweetener.

The thaumatin proteins were developed from Conagen’s peptide production platform, which had previously been used for the scaled production of another peptide sweetener, brazzein.

Like most other proteins, when thaumatin proteins are consumed, they are digested into amino acids. However, because thaumatin communicates such a strong sweet taste, the levels used in most applications contribute almost no calories.

Regulatory approval for thaumatin as natural sweeteners has passed in the European Union (E957), Israel, and Japan. In the United States, it is generally recognized as safe as a flavoring agent (FEMA# 3732).

Casey Lippmeier, vice president of innovation at Conagen, said, “Conagen constantly improves its protein and peptide production platforms to generate more exciting new products. In this case, the platform has been leveraged to make thaumatin by several innovative approaches, but under a significantly shorter R&D timeline.”

Lippmeier added, “Thaumatin is the second announced product generated from our peptide platform, which fits well into our existing world-scale, precision fermentation infrastructure. Peptides and small proteins like brazzein and thaumatin can be very difficult to make economically; however, now that we have successfully scaled multiple peptides and proteins, we are willing to collaborate with other customers to make other novel peptide products.”

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