The Next Steps in the Evolution of Sweetener Strategies—Part 2
Over the past few years, stevia as a sweetener has been having a major influence in food formulating, its presence frequently playing a key role in the development of different sweetener strategies adopted by food and beverage manufacturers. And as stevia continues to evolve, more and more stevia-based ingredients are being derived through patented processes, as well as the creation of new blends of sweeteners using stevia and new flavors and taste modifiers that are compatible with stevia.
The evolution of this sweetener can clearly be seen at this year’s IFT Food Expo.
Producer and marketer of high-purity stevia ingredients, PureCircle USA (booth 343), has increased production of its new “breakthrough ingredient,” PureCircle Alpha, in response to market demand. The ingredient, officially launched in September 2011, is described as a proprietary combination of steviol glycosides, with a clean, sugar-like taste capable of achieving a deeper calorie reduction in foods and beverages. “We have learned that Reb A is not the right solution for all product applications,” explained Jason Hecker, the company’s Vice President Global Marketing & Innovation. “Our search for a better-performing stevia sweetener led us to PureCircle Alpha, which has unquestionably become the next generation of stevia beyond Reb A.” The first products sweetened with the new ingredient are expected on shelves in the second half of 2012. In preparation for these products, the company’s Global Technical Center developed a wide array of ready-to-go formulations across food and beverage categories, including carbonated soft drinks, tea, and dairy products. Rigorous testing and sensory evaluation have shown an improved taste and sweetness profile compared with other stevia ingredients.
Sweet Green Fields (booth 645), was recently granted a U.S. patent covering the company’s highly efficient method for extracting Rebaudioside A. The company claims that its proprietary extraction method is 33–50% faster than the industry’s conventional methods, resulting in a much more efficient and cost-effective process. Known as the “Fast Precipitation Process,” the procedure draws Reb A out of a mid-grade stevia extract and turns it into a highly purified Reb A powder of 95% purity grade and higher. Another key differentiator is said to be the process’s reliance on a water and food-grade ethanol for the extraction, as opposed to methanol or wood alcohol. “This patent is significant because prior to this, the stevia industry’s published methods have long relied on methanol as part of the extraction process, and these methods were time-consuming and costly,” observed Mel Jackson, the company’s Vice President of Science and the creator of the patented process.
Layn USA Inc. (booth 2578), is making available a proprietary blend of Reb A extracted from stevia leaves and mogroside V extracted from the luo han guo fruit. The resulting sweetener, Lovia®, is said to weaken the bitter compounds in stevia with the front-end sweetness of luo han guo providing a more rounded, longer-lasting sweetness perception. The company can customize formulas based on customer applications.
Wild Flavors (booth 401), showcases its Taste Modification Solutions for Stevia, which possess the ability to dramatically reduce the negative taste characteristics linked with stevia. The company also offers a variety of versions of Sunwin Stevia (Reb A 95%, 60%, and 80%) that are conveniently blended with the taste modification ingredients. Wild customizes the blends for optimal balance and overall sweetness profile. Several of its food and beverage prototypes feature these sweetener solutions.
Ingredion (booth 1211) (formerly Corn Products International and National Starch Food Ingredients), offers a variety of food and beverage prototypes that demonstrate the effectiveness of Enliten® Reb A stevia. Attendees should particularly sample a sugar-reduced frozen Meyer lemon yogurt with a fat-reduced blood orange drizzle that stimulates the taste buds.
Domino Specialty Ingredients (booth 1629), provides an extensive portfolio of sweetener solutions including sugar and stevia blend. That addition alone from a company that is known for its sugar lends a lot of credence to the growing importance of stevia as a sweetener solution.
Tomorrow’s third part of this sweetener series will focus on how overcoming the problems of obesity and diabetes can help spur the development of sweetener strategies.