Food companies wanting to avoid the GMO concerns associated with corn syrup and the negative connotations of refined sugar can choose from a wide range of alternative sweeteners. These include organic sugar and evaporated cane juice, rice syrup, barley malt, tapioca syrup, wheat and oat syrup, honey, fruit juices, molasses, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, and agave.
Due to their low cost and availability, corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup are the most widely used sweeteners in food products. Corn sweeteners, which costs less than sugar, account for more than 55 percent of the US sweetener market.
However, the majority of
corn sweeteners are made from unsegregated corn that includes GM varieties.
Wholesome Sweeteners, Inc.,
based in Sugar Land, Texas (1-281-490-9579), also manufactures a range
of organic and natural organic sugar products, including evaporated cane
juice, molasses, and Sucanat (Sugar Cane Natural). Evaporated cane juice
is made by crushing the sugar cane, extracting the juice, washing out
the molasses and evaporating until sugar crystals remain. Wholesome Sweeteners'
organic sugar products are used in cereals, dairy products, baked goods,
beverages, preserves and jellies, cookies, and baby foods.
Deluca says rice syrup is often the first ingredient in energy bars. "It's a sweetener and acts to hold the bar together," he says.
However, rice syrup is more
expensive than corn syrup. "There is nothing cheaper than corn," says
Hall, whose company sells several rice syrup and syrup solid products,
including organic and brown rice-based.
Hoch says there is controversy in the organic industry over the use of resins to produce corn syrup and white grape juice concentrate. Resins are used to trap impurities in the product stream. According to Hoch, the National Organic Program approved the use of resins. "There is debate in the industry about that because the resins are not organic," say Hoch. Several US companies also produce grain-based sweeteners. Sunrich, Inc., Hope, Minnesota (1-507-451-6030), produces powdered maltodextrins and sweeteners made from milled organic corn and organic oats. Grain Millers, Eugene, Oregon, produces organic rice and oat syrup solids and organic barley malt extract.
Briess Industries, Chilton,
Wisconsin (1-920-849-7711), manufactures barley malt extracts. According
to Bernadette Wasdovitch, marketing manager, the extracts carry a caramel
type of sweetness and are used in a wide range of products, such as bagels,
baked goods, and confections. "Companies using the extracts want to maintain
wholesome goodness and are looking for a natural feel and added nutrition," says
Unlike other grains, there won't be any GMO concerns with tapioca. "There is no interest in developing GM tapioca," says Friese.(May 2003)