CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA. — Bonumose, Inc. has opened a new manufacturing and research and development facility in Charlottesville. The 50,000-square-foot facility is dedicated to the production of tagatose, a “rare sugar,” for use in a range of food and beverage products.

“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, which is Bonumose’s distribution partner in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Western Europe.

The facility features standard equipment coupled with a patented enzymatic conversion process to ensure the highest quality and consistency of tagatose production, according to Bonumose. An equity investment co-led by sweetener company ASR Group and The Hershey Co. supported the facility, as did a loan from X-Caliber Rural Capital.

“Opening this new facility is an important milestone on the road to bringing the benefits of tagatose to the public,” said Ed Rogers, chief executive officer of Bonumose. “More so than any other alternative to sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, we believe tagatose can enable better-for-you foods that are on parity for palatability and price with consumer favorites.”

Bonumose said it plans to expand production in the near future. In addition to tagatose, the Virginia facility can produce other ingredients that are in Bonumose’s development pipeline.

“We are working to encourage broad-market adoption of this pure granulated tagatose as a beneficial sugar alternative,” Mr. Rogers said. “Tagatose has everything you love about sugar with better health benefits.”