FIIRO develops technology for sweetener production

The Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO) has developed a technology for commercial extraction and optimisation of high grade Thaumatin, a low calorie sweetener and flavor modifier.

The Director General, FIIRO, Gloria Elemo, disclosed this  in Lagos during the International conference on alternative sweeteners themed: “Harnessing of the economic potential of Thaumatin (Thaumatococcus danielli) in Africa.”

Thaumatin is a low-calorie protein sweetener and flavor modifier extracted from the fruit of a West African plant Thaumatococcus daniellii, and is totally natural with an intense sweetness.

Elemo said the move was apt considering that the market for global high intensity sweetener, both natural and synthetic, was estimated at about 1.3 billion dollars in 2008 and was expected to quadruple by 2021.

According to her, there is increasing large segment of the population with special dietary requirements containing non-nutritive sugar, such as the diabetic patients.

“Over the past few decades, non-nutritive sweeteners have been gaining significance and are expected to develop into a major source of high potency sweetener for the growing natural food and pharmaceutical markets.

“There is a huge gap between sugar production and consumption in Nigeria, and this represents a serious problem since an estimated 2.5 million tonnes will be imported to meet local demand,” she said.

The FIIRO boss noted that all available sweeteners for industrial and domestic use in the country were imported, adding that asides their non-availability and high cost, they had negative health implications.

“FIIRO as an organisation has over a long period of time been involved in herbal programmes and project for sweeteners, medicines, spices, condiments, nutraceuticals, foods and functional foods,” she said.

Elemo said the institute ensured that only the best and safest ingredients were utilised in the development of its various products to spur industrialisation in the country.