Production of tagatose, a “rare sugar,” has begun at Bonumose, Inc.’s facility and research and development laboratory in Charlottesville. Starting in mid-February, ASR Group, West Palm Beach, Fla., will have tagatose available for shipments and samples. ASR Group is Bonumose’s exclusive distribution partner in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Western Europe.

“Rare sugars” are so called because they are found in nature in limited quantities. Charlottesville-based Bonumose has developed a proprietary method using enzymatic processes to produce tagatose from plant-based starches at a lower cost. Tagatose is 90% as sweet as sugar with 60% fewer calories. Studies have shown tagatose to have prebiotic effects, according to ASR Group.

“Because of the compelling functional and nutritional properties of tagatose, we are seeing strong market interest across a wide variety of food and beverage companies,” said Jim Kappas, ASR Group's vice president of specialty ingredients for ASR Group. “For this reason, Bonumose is fast-tracking plans for a second, larger plant.”