MALAYSIA October 2019
 
Two Malaysian companies to develop ‘healthy’ Bubble Tea
 
Holista CollTech Ltd (Holista) and SunFresh Fruit Hub Sdn Bhd (Fruit Hub) have recently announced an R&D collaboration to produce 3 key healthy ingredients for Bubble Tea, an increasingly popular drink that has contributed to rising global concerns over diabetes and obesity.
Bubble Tea started in Taiwan but it has now become popular in most parts of East and Southeast Asia.
Holista, a food ingredients specialist company formed out of a merger between Holistic Biotech Sdn Bhd and Colltech Australia Ltd; and Fruit Hub, which processes and packages fruit juices and beverage ingredients, said that the Bubble Tea sector is growing rapidly, but many consumers are not aware of the consequences to their health if they consume bubble tea drinks excessively.
A typical 500ml Bubble Tea drink contains at least 8.5 teaspoons of sugar, although customers can opt for a less-sweetened product. Each cup can contain anywhere between 281 to 640 calories.
Holista and Fruit Hub will co-develop healthy versions of 3 main Bubble Tea ingredients without altering the taste and mouth-feel. All three ingredients will have a lower Glycemic Index ("GI"), which measures a food's impact on blood sugar. The first ingredient is low-GI 'pearls', tapioca starch balls measuring 0.8 to 1.0 cm each which account for about a third of the drink's calorie count. Holista will combine its patented GI-Lite™, an all-natural formula with tapioca starch to lower the GI without any discernible change in taste or texture. Fruit Hub is processing the 'pearls' at its facility in Lanchang, Pahang state, Malaysia using a formula of its Taiwanese partner, YongDa Food Technology Co. Ltd. Subject to final tests, the partners expect to lower the GI of the 'pearls' from the 70-75 currently to below 55. The 2nd ingredient is a sugar syrup using Holista's proprietary low-GI and low-calorie sugar, 80Less™, that has 80?wer calories and yet delivers the same taste sensation; this not only reduces unhealthy effects but also lowers costs for manufacturers and vendors. The 3rd ingredient is Holista's proprietary low-GI sugar caramel (brown sugar) which retains sweetness with lower calories. Made from molasses, it is used as a pre-pour to sweeten the 'pearls' or as a medium to cook them.
All 3 products will be tested by the Sydney University GI Research Service ("SUGiRS") by the end of November 2019 before hitting local and international markets by the 1st quarter of 2020.
Dr Rajen Manicka, Founder and CEO of Holista said, “The Bubble Tea fad is not going to go away. The challenge is to offer a healthier version which can significantly reduce the potential of higher incidence of diabetes and obesity. We are combining science with the market reach and understanding of the needs of Bubble Tea manufacturers and vendors to offer a healthier alternative without increasing cost of production.”
Ms Foong Wai Fong, Managing Director of Fruit Hub added that this new endeavour will possibly place Malaysia as a centre of innovation in the beverage sector.
The Taiwan Bubble Tea market alone is expected to grow to US$3.21 billion by 2023 from US$1.96 billion in 2016, according to Allied Market research. An independent market analysis firm, Straits Research, has estimated Malaysia's Bubble Tea market at US$49.8 million and growing at an annual rate of 6.9% from 2019 to 2026.
 
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