Better-for-you indulgences: Sweet protein producer secures $6.9m funding from Kraft Heinz

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Joywell Foods' sweet proteins can be used to develop better-for-you baked goods. Pic: GettyImages/lucielang
Joywell Foods' sweet proteins can be used to develop better-for-you baked goods. Pic: GettyImages/lucielang

Related tags Kraft heinz Evolv Ventures Joywell Foods sweet proteins Fermentation

Joywell Foods closed a $6.9m funding round led by Kraft Heinz’s investment arm Evolv Ventures, bringing the company’s total funding to $13.2m.

Joywell Foods – previously known as Miraculex – is using the capital to increase its R&D to expand its proprietary technology platform, specifically building a portfolio of sweet proteins derived from exotic fruits.

The food technology company has filed for three patents in the past year. It has also published a peer-reviewed toxicology study on the miracle berry protein commonly known as miraculin,​ and commercialised a first-to-market popsicle concept sweetened with the protein, which is 5,500 times sweeter than sugar.

Miracle berry

The ingredient – which is extracted using fermentation technology – is bang on trend with the consumer push towards health and wellbeing, as well as a directive by global health authorities to reduce sugar.

Reinventing everyday foods

Joywell Foods said many people perceive sweet proteins as tasting more similar to sugar than existing artificial and alternative substitutes, noting there are several plant-based sweet proteins that exhibit a higher sweetness than sugar, but are not associated with the same long-term negative health implications.

According to the University of California, San Francisco’s SugarScience team, the overconsumption of sugar is linked to metabolic syndrome, which includes diabetes, heart disease and liver disease.​Statistics show that Americans consume on average 17 teaspoons of sugar per day, or 57 pounds of added sugars annually.

“Our team is excited to bring sweet proteins to commercial scale with the support of our newest investor, Evolv Ventures. These funds bring us one step closer to our vision of eliminating the prevalence of sugar in our diet,”​ said Karen Huh, CEO of Joywell Foods.

“Sweet proteins – many of which are over 1,000 times sweeter than sugar – can reduce how much sugar we consume in our daily lifestyle.”

Potential to make big impact

Joywell Foods said it will be piloting a number of offerings through limited retail and direct-to-consumer channels in 18-24 months. The plant-based proteins can be used in a variety of better-for-you applications spanning bakery, confectionery, dairy and frozen desserts.

“We believe in the sweet protein space and its application in consumer products,”​ added Steve Sanger, founder and partner of Evolv Ventures.

“Joywell Foods is a thought leader in this area and is pioneering solutions that enable great taste and reduce mainstream sugar consumption. The company has the potential to make a big impact in the sweet protein space.”

In addition to Evolv Ventures, Joywell Foods’ Series A push was backed by Khosla Ventures and SOSV – which also participated in its Seed round – alongside Alumni Ventures Group and other investors.

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