As of 2016, one in five people in the U.S. are obese. As of a 2014 study, nearly 10 percent of Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes. In short, our resistance to good nutrition, both on a personal and commercial level, is causing lasting problems within the population.
Part of the problem is that the best-tasting food is usually the worst for our health, and bad eating habits beget worse eating habits.
That's where DouxMatok comes in.
The Israel-based startup has found a way to make sugar more efficient and potent so people can eat less of it and still get the same effect.
The whole thing started when CEO Eran Baniel went to his annual check-up and learned that he was on the cusp of being pre-diabetic, and his physician told him to cut back on his sugar intake. Around the same time, his father, Dr. Avraham Baniel (a leading industrial chemical researcher in Israel), came to him with an idea to make sugar even sweeter without affecting taste.
The father-son duo, along with other founding members of the team, created a small batch of this re-engineered sugar and invited some food industry folks to try it out. Following an enthusiastically positive response, DouxMatok was born.
The company recently raised $8.1 million in funding, led by Pitango.
"We've been following DouxMatok from the beginning," said Ittai Harel, managing partner at Pitango. "Part of the reason we chose to get in now is that we saw that DouxMatok was effectively creating a dynamic with food companies where they saw it as a positive. Food companies were turning a favorable eye and it became clear that DouxMatok had figured out how to position themselves within the industry."
For years now, pharmaceutical companies have been using what they refer to as a drug carrier, which is a chemical compound or molecule that transports the drug to the intended receptors within the body. DouxMatok is doing the same thing with sugar.
The average American consumes between 150 and 170 pounds of sugar in a single year. But according to DouxMatok CTO Dr. Alejandro Marabi, we never taste a significant amount of the sugar we eat. Instead, it goes straight to our belly, adding to our caloric intake without any of the benefit of getting that sweet taste.
DouxMatok has developed a carrier system for sugar that makes the sugar molecule travel straight to the sweetness receptors on your taste buds and stay there as long as possible, increasing the efficacy of sugar within your diet.
DouxMatok says it can reduce the amount of sugar needed in foods, without affecting taste at all, by around 30 percent, differing slightly based on the recipe.
"Right now, the sugar industry is fighting against artificial sweeteners like Stevia and high-impact sugars," said Eran Baniel. "Sugar is considered the enemy and people are looking for ways to replace sugar. It's not just a trend; that sentiment is here to stay."
DouxMatok is working both with sugar refiners and food brands to work out new recipes for existing products that use less overall sugar.
In terms of business, DouxMatok will work with refiners to buy their original refined sugar at wholesale prices, and then partner with them to re-engineer it into DouxMatok sugar, sharing revenue from the sale of DouxMatok products to food brands.
Eventually, DouxMatok hopes to create its own brand, letting users purchase a bag of DouxMatok sugar instead of Domino or some other brand at the grocery store.
And since this technique can be applied to other verticals, the company could end up doing the same thing to other common ingredients like salt.
DouxMatok is produced using sustainable green chemistry principles, and is fully compliant with FDA and EU regulations.