KANSAS CITY – Advances in the stevia / steviol glycoside category have led to new sweetener options for food and beverage formulators looking to reduce sugar. Questions to consider when choosing a sweetener include the desired percentage of sugar reduction, cost, durability, and whether to stick with a stevia leaf extract or a sweetener produced by fermentation.
Interest in reducing sugar, natural sweeteners, and stevia, a zero-calorie high-intensity sweetener, remains high.
This year’s International Food Information Council’s Diet and Health Survey found that 72% of those polled said they were trying to limit or avoid sugars. MarketsandMarkets, based in Northbrook, Ill., Has estimated that the global natural sweeteners market will reach $ 2.8 billion in sales in 2020 and forecast sales will reach $ 3.8 billion by 2025 through a rate annual compound growth of 6.1%.
Allied Market Research, Portland, Oregon, in a report released last year estimates the global stevia market at $ 637.1 million in 2018 and predicts it will reach $ 1.16 billion by 2026, which equates to a compound annual growth rate of 8%.
Ingredion, Inc., Westchester, Ill., Has expanded its portfolio of steviol glycoside sweeteners over the past year. Last year, the company acquired a 75% stake in stevia supplier PureCircle, Inc. Then, in May, Ingredion became the exclusive business-to-business global business partner for sugar reduction technology. Amyris, including the sweetener Amyris Rebaudioside M created by the fermentation of sugar cane.
âIngredion, through its subsidiary PureCircle, is the exclusive business-to-business global business partner for Amyris sugar reduction technology which includes fermented Reb M,â said Nate Yates, global platform leader, sugar reduction and specialty sweeteners for Ingredion. âProduct sales will be incorporated into our extensive stevia portfolio. Existing Amyris customers will be transferred to PureCircle by Ingredion.
While Amyris Reb M is produced by fermentation, PureCircle offers a Reb M sweetener extracted from stevia leaves.
âReb M is one of the tastiest molecules found in the stevia plant,â Mr. Yates said. âThe addition of Amyris technology completes the trio with extracted and bio-converted Reb M, providing PureCircle by Ingredion with the most comprehensive line of stevia ingredients and technologies.
Cargill, Minneapolis, originally offered Reb A extracted from stevia leaves in 2008. The launch of ViaTech sweeteners, which harness the leaf’s steviol glycosides in optimal combinations, followed.
âDuring all this ViaTech work, as we tasted all of these steviol glycosides together, we found that Reb M and Reb D were truly the tastiest glycosides,â said Andrew Ohmes, Global Product Line Manager for high intensity sweeteners for Cargill. “The problem was, there wasn’t really much of it in the stevia leaf.”
Cargill and Royal DSM, Heerlen, The Netherlands, formed a joint venture, Avansya, to create Reb M and Reb D by fermenting a specialty craft yeast in 2019. These sweeteners now carry the brand name EverSweet.
âEverSweet is the closest you can get to sugar,â Mr. Ohmes said.
This year, Cargill and DSM worked on a third-party verified life cycle assessment. Analysis found that EverSweet offered environmental benefits over other sweeteners, including sugar and stevia systems. Compared to bioconverted Reb M sources, EverSweet produced a 60% lower carbon footprint and required 70% less land.
âIt is much more sustainable to produce Reb M and Reb D through this fermentation process,â Mr. Ohmes said.
Food and beverage companies should note that EverSweet does not come from the stevia leaf.
âIf you want to claim a foil and put a foil on the front of your package, you really have to stick with Reb A and ViaTech products,â Ohmes said.
Of the sweeteners, Reb A may be the most cost effective when you don’t want as much sugar reduction, say 30%, said Ohmes. ViaTech will achieve a reduction closer to 100%, and EverSweet is able to achieve a 100% reduction in sugar.
Stevia leaf research
Research is focused on increasing the amount of Reb M and Reb D from stevia leaves.
Tate & Lyle, PLC, London, offers Tasteva M and Tasteva D sweeteners made using bioconversion technology that delivers Reb M and Reb D taste profiles at a competitive and sustainable price, said Megan Bishof, director of the marketing of stevia.
âThe bioconversion starts with the stevia leaf and converts the more readily available steviol glycosides into rarer options like Reb D and Reb M,â she said. “This technology helps bring durable Reb M and Reb D to the market at competitive prices.”
âWe now have a better understanding of minor glycosides and how they combine with Reb A or stevioside to improve the overall taste profile of stevia sweeteners. “- Dirk Reif, SMA
Last year, Tate & Lyle acquired Sweet Green Fields, a manufacturer of stevia-based ingredients based in Bellingham, Washington. All stevia sweeteners are derived from stevia leaf extracts. Some sweeteners are available as Certified Organic through the National Organic Program of the United States Department of Agriculture.
ADM’s SweetRight Edge Stevia takes advantage of almost all of the steviol glycosides found in the stevia plant through extraction and purification, said Dirk Reif, technical director of sweeteners for Chicago-based ADM.
âStevioside and rebaudioside A are the most abundant steviol glycosides in stevia leaf, but there are many more available for use,â he said. âWe now have a better understanding of minor glycosides and how they combine with Reb A or stevioside to improve the overall taste profile of stevia sweeteners. We maximize the glycosides that taste the best while minimizing those that have less desirable attributes, such as bitterness, persistence, and astringency.
Stevia is considered a clean label ingredient, he said.
âWhile some formulators may rely on enzyme or fermentation technology to create a specific steviol glycoside, all of the steviol glycosides in our SweetRight stevia sweeteners are extracted from the stevia leaf,â M said. Reif. âAs a result, our food and beverage industry partners can confidently make claims that resonate with buyers, such as plant-based, no added sugar, and no artificial sweeteners. “
Nascent Health Sciences, LLC, Iselin, NJ’s SoPure Stevia uses natural steviol glycosides found and extracted from the stevia leaf, said Michael Chen, executive vice president.
âMost industry professionals are already familiar with the more popular glycosides like Rebaudioside D and Rebaudioside M because of their sweet taste, but there are other lesser known glycosides like Reb E, Reb F, Rubusoside and Steviolbioside which have other functional properties. beyond softness, âhe said. âThe SoPure stevia portfolio offers all of these glycosides, from the most common to the rare, in high purity or in carefully crafted combinations that maximize the natural synergy of glycosides. “
Nascent is developing new varieties of the stevia plant that produce a higher concentration of targeted glycosides via natural pathways such as crossbreeding and hybridization.
âOne of our varieties contains 30 times higher concentrations of Reb M than the original variety,â Chen said.
SweeGen, Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., Obtains International Regulatory Approval For Its Bestevia Rebaudioside M From The Stevia Leaf. In May, the Malaysian Ministry of Health accepted the Bestevia sweeteners from SweeGen Reb D, Reb E and Reb M as ingredients in food and beverage products.
âAsia Pacific is a very important region for us because we regularly get regulatory approvals there,â said Luca Giannone, senior vice president of sales for SweeGen. âOur presence is growing in Asia as we have regulatory approvals in Malaysia, Singapore and several other countries that are ongoing and planned for later this year. The official opening of our innovation studio in Singapore will be in line with the gradual easing of COVID-19 conditions in the region. “
SweeGen’s Reb M sweetener is also in its final stages before the European Union releases its approval, said Michael Halvorsen, senior director of business development, EMEA for SweeGen. The company launched a food and beverage application center in London in January and has a Reb M manufacturing facility in Eastern Europe.
“The (manufacturing) facility is already set and ready to chart a new course in reducing sugar in Europe,” said Mr Halvorsen. âOver the past few years, SweeGen has collaborated with leading food and beverage manufacturers in Europe to explore application developments to create sweet taste innovations. Now the products are almost ready to hit the market.