Edible Innovations: Dr. Wichelecki Makes Good Sugar

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Edible Innovations: Dr. Wichelecki Makes Good Sugar

From Singapore to the USA and all around Europe, Edible Innovations profiles food makers that engage in improving the global food system at every stage, from production to distribution to eating and shopping. Join us as we explore the main trends in the industry from a maker perspective. Chiara Cecchini of Food Innovation Program — an ecosystem with a strong educational core that promotes food innovation as a key tool to tackle the great challenges of the future — introduces you to the faces, stories, and experiences of food makers around the globe. Check back on Tuesdays and Thursdays for new installments.

In the United States there are over 29 million people who live with diabetes. Globally there are over 371 million people affected. With the numbers rising for both Type 2 Diabetes and obesity rates worldwide, scientists have begun looking to what people are consuming for the answers to these statistics.

These health issues can be traced back to excessively consuming sucrose and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). These two types of sugars have been harshly judged in the media before, and even publicly linked to some serious side effects. This resulted in fad dieting and quite a few individuals deciding to cut sugar from their diets entirely. However, internationally, people still crave the sugars that they are used to eating and cooking with.

Huge amounts of products are distributed and sold daily with sucrose and other sweeteners, and they are almost all very addictive. However, sucrose is not our only option. There are better products for us to consume. Dr. Daniel Wichelecki aims to provide the world with a sugar that is both higher quality and more affordable in comparison to sucrose.

Not all sugar is bad, and it is a necessary part of our diets. Glucose, for example, provides energy for our brain and internal organs. So while some sugars are detrimental, naturally occurring sugar can help alleviate cravings so people live healthier lives. However, finding the right sugars, and making sure that all of the products you use have these sugars, can be incredibly challenging and, unfortunately, very expensive. This is where Dr. Wichelecki and his company Bonumose, a start-up food ingredient manufacturer, come in.

Dr. Wichelecki saw the numerous health problems that people face when they consume unhealthy sugar, but also knew how expensive the alternative healthy sugars are. Holding a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Illinois, Dr. Wichelecki developed tagatose through an enzymatic process. As Chief Scientific Officer at Boumose, Dr. Wichelecki hopes his healthier sugar will start to be included in the foods and drinks people buy.

Just because you have never heard of tagatose, does not mean that you have not eaten it. The sugar that Wichelecki produced is naturally occurring, and can be found in small quantities in fruits, grains, and dairies. It has also already been on the market for over 15 years. Tagatose has just never been produced in large quantities or been included in most types of food because it costs a lot of money for producers to make and consumers to buy.

Dr. Wichelecki’s process reduces the cost of producing tagatose by 20% by harnessesing the natural power of enzymes to create less expensive but equally delicious sugar. This type of sugar is also healthier for people.

Tagatose is a prebiotic, which helps create a healthier environment in your stomach. It has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels for those living with diabetes, and it does not cause tooth decay. On top of that, it also blocks absorption of sucrose and starch and helps people feel satiated. This type of sugar is ideal for both people with sugar related health issues and people who love sweet flavors but want to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Bonumose’s overall goal is to perfect this process and reduce tagatose rates by over 80%. They wish to commercially produce this sugar to sweeten food and beverages in a way that helps alleviate sugar induced health issues. Ideally, it will replace the sucrose and high fructose corn syrup that is currently used.

Bonumose believes that they can do all of this while maintaining similar prices for refined sugar foods. At this rate, they can replace 10-15% of the sucrose market with their healthier alternative.

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Chiara is fascinated by food as a means to impact bodies, minds, and environment. She has studied international business in three different countries, and is an alumni of the Food Innovation Program and US Director at the Future Food Institute.

Based in California, she is also a Research Scholar at Food Science and Technology at UC Davis, working on building the first comprehensive Internet of Food to enable food care through food systems semantics. She is a selected member of Barilla Center Food Nutrition Foundation, a Research Affiliate at Institute For The Future, Board Member at Maker Faire and selected member of the Global Shapers, a young global network of innovators promoted by the World Economic Forum.

She is passionate about social entrepreneurship and impact investing, and aims to leave her mark on society.

View more articles by Chiara Cecchini


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