These flatbreads will include Malaysian and Singaporean breakfast staple roti canai (prata in Singapore), and Indian staple chappati.
Sales of the low-GI roti canai will commence in Malaysia by April 2019.
The technology used to make these products low-GI is Holista’s proprietary ingredient combination trademarked as GI Lite.
The formula is clean-label, all-natural and comprises a blend of okra, barley, lentils and fenugreek. The target for these products is to reach GI levels that are around 40% lower than the global average for flatbreads, which currently stands at 70.
Apart from lower GI levels, the new flatbread range will also be lower in fat content.
According to the official press statement, “When mixed with white flour, [the formula] lowers the GI reading of the final product without compromising taste or texture.”
"Our low-GI versions of this popular staple food will help to address the growing problem of obesity and diabetes in Malaysia and abroad,” said Holista Managing Director and CEO Dato' Dr. Rajen Manicka.
This joint partnership with Kawan is estimated to bring in an additional A$4mn of revenue for Holista this year. Kawan exports to 38 countries worldwide, including Australia, India, Singapore and the United States.
Kawan Food Managing Director Timothy Tan said, "We are proud […] to be the first in the world to offer healthy flatbreads such as roti canai, effectively carving out a new niche in the food ingredients sector in Malaysia and beyond."
Targeting GI to battle chronic diseases
The glycaemic index refers to the rate at which carbohydrates in foods raise blood sugar levels, and lower scores mean healthier foods.
A diet rich in high-GI foods has been linked to chronic diseases such as diabetes and obesity, as well as poor energy levels and cravings.
Given that Malaysia ranks first in Asia in terms of obesity at a rate of 13.3%, and roti canai is one of the nation’s most-consumed food items, it is not surprising that Kawan and Holista have chosen to pilot their low-GI products in the country.
Another form of technology targeting the lowering of GI to battle diabetes is Singapore start-up Alchemy Foodtech’s ingredient 5ibrePlusTM, which is designed to ‘lower the GI of traditionally high GI refined carbohydrates, such as white rice, bread and noodles, without changing the taste, texture and colour of the food.’
The company obtained investments in the seven-digit range last year based on its keynote invention.