New Australian innovation: sugar transformed into flour substitute

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 2nd November 2011

In a world first, Australian sugar cane is being made into a new gluten-free, low-sugar, high-fibre flour substitute, with a production line swinging into action this week.

The breakthrough technology was developed by KFSU Pty Ltd, an Australian company at Ayr, near Townsville in Queensland, after five years of research and millions of dollars of investment.

The first commercial production of the flour began at the KFSU factory in Ayr this week, using sugar cane harvested from the surrounding Burdekin region.

The cane flour, known as Kfibre or Fibacel, is made from crushed cane stalks with the sugar juice removed to produce a pale-coloured powder. It is being sold as a natural substitute for wheat flour to consumers suffering from gluten or starch intolerance, grain allergies and celiac disease.

Ironically, the cane stalk fibre is usually the waste product of refined sugar production. Moreover, the processed high-fibre cane flour sells for about $5000 per tonne, while the world sugar price currently sits at around $500 per tonne. This is an excellent value-add, given that the sugar price is at a near-record level already.

The cane flour can be used in place of traditional wheat flours in breads and baked goods. It can also be used to make non-allergenic small goods and can be added to “functional food” products in order to claim low-GI, high fibre and high iron health benefits. The product is said to be high in iron, B vitamins, calcium and dietary fibre.

Australian Food News spoke to KFSU commercial director Rod Lewis today, who said the company has been overwhelmed by the positive responses it has received since production began on Monday. The company is already planning expansion to fill orders from Japanese health food companies making low-sugar snacks and has recieved a large order from a local distributor of medical foods, according to Mr Lewis.