The funding for Nutrition Innovation, which is VVNP’s sixth portfolio company and its first in Singapore, was joined by Enerfo Group, a global commodity trading firm, and an undisclosed family office based in the United Kingdom.
Incorporated in Singapore in 2017, Nutrition Innovation has introduced proprietary technology that it says enables industrial-scale production of low glycemic, natural sugar cane as a healthier replacement for refined sugar.
Traditionally, sugar is highly refined, stripped of antioxidants and can be high in glycemic index (GI) but food manufacturers have found it challenging to replace refined sugar with so-called ‘alternative sweeteners’, which are expensive.
The startup said its patent-protected process retains the antioxidants and minerals like calcium and magnesium that occur naturally in cane sugar. The result is high-quality natural cane sugar that is low glycemic that can be produced at an industrial scale consistently and at a fraction of the cost of refined sugar, Nutrition Innovation said.
“With the escalating prevalence of diabetes and obesity, this unique less-processed approach empowers food and beverage manufacturers to develop healthier products without compromising on taste,” it added.
The company said the global sugar market is approximately 170 million tons per year or around $100 billion in commodity sales.
“Nutrition Innovation strives to make the world a healthier place by creating natural, scalable, efficient and effective sugar solutions for manufacturers everywhere,” said Nutrition Innovation founder and chairman Dr David Kannar.
VVNP founder and managing director Matthieu Vermersch said food ingredients, like sugar, are characterised by their specific functional properties, making them essential but extremely challenging to replace in food products.
“Nutrition Innovation presents an opportunity to overhaul the global sugar market with a healthier product,” he said.
Last year, VVNP announced plans to launch a $100-million second fund in 2019, after closing its $40-million first fund in June.
VVNP is one of the few venture capital firms in Asia with an extremely niche focus – technologies for the global food and feed system. It seeks to identify and back startups solving an array of food-related issues along the entire supply chain.