Cutting back sugar from juices, startup seeks to tackle oversweetness

Rehovot-based Better Juice raises $8 million from investors to set up manufacturing plant for bioreactors that use enzymatic process to reduce sugar but retain flavor

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Illustrative image of an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables juices (AlexRaths; iStock by Getty Images)
Illustrative image of an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables juices (AlexRaths; iStock by Getty Images)

Better Juice, Ltd., a startup that seeks to reduce sugars in natural juices, said Wednesday it has raised $8 million in a seed round investment to build a manufacturing plant and expand its sales and marketing.

The startup uses enzymes to change the molecular structure of sugars naturally found in fruit juices — fructose, glucose, and sucrose — and transform them into prebiotic dietary fibers and other non-digestible molecules. Over 20 percent of daily sugar intake stems from beverages, the Rehovot-based company says on its website.

With the ability to reduce up to 80% of all sugars, Better Juice’s non-GMO technology — a bioreactor device that performs the enzymatic process — will be sold to juice producers to help them create a low-calorie, reduced-sugar product with a “delicate sweetness,” the company said in a statement.

The juices have a reduced sugar content and thus taste less sweet than their natural counterparts, said Eran Blachinsky, founder and CEO of Better Juice, in a phone interview. The flavor, however, is untouched by the process, he underlined.

A consumer panel held by the company found that 57% of respondents who tasted the low-sugar juice said they preferred the treated juice, whereas another 20% said they were undecided between the new kind of juice and the original. The remaining tasters said they preferred the original. The tasters were informed about the sugar reduced concept, he said.

Better Juice opened a pilot plant in January 2021 to produce its bioreactors, “an important milestone in the startup’s commercial scale-up timeline,” the statement said.

The Better Juice team in Rehovot, June 2021 (Lotem Friedland)

Blachinsky said the firm is in talks with juice makers and hopes its bioreactor tanks will hit the market and be installed in the production processes of juice manufacturers by the start of 2022. Better Juice will now use the new investment to build its first full-scale manufacturing plant in Israel. The plant will increase production capacity fortyfold and generate up to $50 million sales annually, the company forecast. The company will also use the funds to expand the sales and marketing teams to support its commercialization stage.

The money raised will also help the company accelerate growth “and expand into other product lines, such as ice cream, soft drinks, and jam,” said Blachinsky.

The funding round was led by iAngels, Israel and includes investors Maverick Ventures, Israel; Food Tech Lab TFTL, Spain; The Kitchen Hub, Israel — the food tech incubator set up by Strauss Group and the Israel Innovation Authority; NEOME, Israel; Schestowitz Group, Israel; and Semillero, Puerto Rico.

Better Juice was founded in 2018 by Blachinsky in collaboration with the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. The company was incubated in The Kitchen Hub – Strauss Group’s foodtech and IIA incubator, and received early funding from Maverick Ventures, Israel and other global investors, the statement said.

“We strongly believe in Better Juice’s outstanding technology to lead the sugar reduction revolution in natural juices,” said Mor Assia, CEO and founding partner of iAngels. “Better Juice’s know-how and technology is perfectly in-line with our portfolio and vision of future, advanced impact technologies. The company has created exceptional partnerships with leading beverage companies and is paving the way to better-for-you products.”

“Over consumption of sugar is an enormous challenge for humanity,” said Amir Zaidman, VP of The Kitchen Hub. “Better Juice is a key pillar in overcoming it.”

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed