‘Making a little sugar feel like plenty’

The founders’ story is the result of a sequence of events in the life of Prof. Avraham Baniel that led to the birth of the company’s innovation platform and technology.

DouxMatok (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Company: DouxMatok
Founded: 2014
Founders: Avraham and Eran Baniel
Employees: 26
Capital raised: $9 million
A few weeks ago, I spent two days at Touro University California learning about some of the research and work the team there does in the healthcare world. Some of the words I heard a lot of included diabetes, cancer and obesity. While I was aware that obesity is a serious concern globally, what I did not realize is just how much of an epidemic it truly is.
Not only are food-related conditions a real epidemic, they are also on the rise and show no signs of slowing down.
Overconsumption of sugar and salt is known to be a major contributor to food epidemics, such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. According to the World Health Organization, in 2014, 39% of all adults worldwide were overweight (approximately 2 billion people!)
Six hundred million adults were obese, and more than 40 million preschool children were overweight or obese. Those numbers have since increased significantly.
Consumers are looking for healthier solutions and healthier eating choices are driving consumer buying habits, with millennials leading the way. According to Bloomberg, in 2016, 20% of global products and brands’ recipes were reformulated, mainly to cut sugar and salt – responding to growing consumer demand for healthy products.
Meet DouxMatok, a company co-founded by Prof. Avraham Baniel, who founded the company at the young age of 96 and who is today 100 years old. Today, Eran Baniel, Prof. Baniel’s son, is CEO and is aiming to bring the company’s product to commercialization by the end of 2019.
DouxMatok’s first product is its Sugar Reduction Solution, which is proven to reduce sugar by 40% or more in a variety of food applications, without compromising on taste. They are working closely with leading food multinationals to integrate the solution into key products.
DouxMatok is a food-tech company, a pioneer in the development of efficient flavor delivery, enabling improved nutritional profile of foods while retaining the same taste. Their patented technology maximizes the efficiency of sugar or salt delivery to the taste buds and enhances the perception of sweetness or saltiness allowing substantial reductions of these ingredients.
DouxMatok has developed a strong intellectual property portfolio based on its technology platform, has 18 patents granted and more than 44 pending, covering the composition and the processes of making the products and their food and beverage applications.
Sounds pretty fascinating, right? I haven’t even got to the most interesting part, how this all came to be.
The founders’ story is the result of a sequence of events in the life of Prof. Avraham Baniel that led to the birth of the company’s innovation platform and technology.
It all started in Haifa in 1944, during the British Mandate in Palestine.
All essential ingredients were rationed, especially sugars. Baniel’s neighbor, an elementary school teacher, observed that children had a hard time concentrating in school because they craved sugar. Baniel, a young chemist fresh out of university, started to think of a way “to make a little sugar feel like plenty.”
Fast forward several decades. Chicago, 2001, headquarters of a leading sugars and sweeteners manufacturer. An urgent
management meeting is convened to discuss the slow market-penetration of their new and improved sweetener upon the realization that children and most adults totally refuse products sweetened by their sugar substitute. Baniel, a participant of this meeting, has a flashback from almost 60 years earlier, and begins to connect the dots: Can sugar – real sugar – be enhanced to allow for the reduction, and still keep the users’ delight?
Then eight years later in 2009, in Jerusalem, Prof. Baniel in his kitchen figures out the first-ever targeted flavor delivery system for sugar and demonstrates his proof of concept to leading food manufacturers, who confirm the effect and add: “The two most acute health-related problems in the food and beverage industries are sugar and salt. Solving one of these, or even both, with no aftertaste has huge potential!”
In 2014 in Petah Tikva, Baniel at the age of 96 with 75 years of worldwide experience in industrial chemical research along with his son, Eran, found DouxMatok. Following seed investments, they hire two research chemists and start R&D activities on two subleased benches in a pharmaceutical research lab.
Then in 2015, DouxMatok is publicly demoed for the first time at the Agrivest conference in the Weizmann Institute, and is recognized with the “Best Start-Up” award. With DouxMatok’s new achievement and publicity comes considerable market interest, which proves far too big for their three-person team to handle alone. In 2018, DouxMatok is awarded the Prime Minister of Israel’s Innovation Prize for its groundbreaking technology and raises capital from some of Israel’s top investors, JVP and Pitango Venture Capital.
And as they say, the rest is history.