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Cargill starts production of optimised stevia extract

Cargill has officially started producing EverSweet, a zero-calorie, next-generation sweetener made with two of the best-tasting sweet compounds found in the stevia leaf, Reb M and Reb D, via a fermentation process.

“Cargill has set a new benchmark for sweetness without calories with our EverSweet sweetener,” says Andrew Ohmes, global stevia business leader for Cargill. “Our goal has always been to address our customers’ needs to make lower-calorie products that taste great and are affordable to all.”

Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst, Ohmes said: “With an increasing consumer focus on low-calorie, clean label products and a changing regulatory environment, a low-calorie, high-intensity sweetener option, like Cargill’s EverSweet sweetener, is now available to our customers to address these consumer needs.”

The most prevalent stevia sweeteners in the leaf (called “RebA”) have a lingering bitter, liquorice flavour, which gets worse at higher concentrations. EverSweet sweetener is made with the identical, and sweetest, steviol glycosides found in the stevia leaf, Reb M and Reb D. 

Reb M and Reb D, however, make up less than 1 percent of the actual leaf, making it prohibitively costly to obtain them from the stevia plant. It would take significantly more acres of land to produce enough Reb M and Reb D from leaf to supply the demands of the marketplace.

“Thus, the beauty of fermentation,” states Ohmes. “Fermentation allows Cargill to scale up EverSweet sweetener quickly and efficiently to meet the commercial needs of customers who are looking to create new classes of lower-calorie products that taste great and are affordable to all.”

“Our proprietary research continues to show that stevia resonates with consumers. We’ve found that consumers view stevia leaf extract as healthful and that it is an ingredient that will drive purchase interest on the pack,” he notes.

“Globally, clean label and sugar calorie reduction are the key trends that continue to drive product development efforts. Here in the US, more than three in four Americans report they are trying to avoid or limit their sugar intake, according to the 2017 Food and Health Survey from the International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC),” says Ohmes.

“However, while some consumers desire to reduce or avoid sugar and may gravitate toward familiar ingredients, taste is – and will remain – the single biggest driver of purchase intent. Zero-calorie stevia sweeteners are uniquely positioned to help formulators address these seemingly competing demands.”

Since the stevia plant produces only trace amounts of Reb M and Reb D, fermentation allows for large quantities of these most sought-after sweet compounds to be commercially produced in a more sustainable way.

Cargill’s use of this fermentation process offers the flexibility to expand rapidly and cost-effectively as the demand for the EverSweet sweetener grows.

The EverSweet project is a joint venture between Cargill and Evolva, the first company to identify and characterise several enzymes involved in Reb M biosynthesis pathways.

In April 2017, it announced a major collaboration agreement with Cargill for the production and commercialisation of EverSweet, under which Evolva could receive up to 30% of the profits of the business.

EverSweet has many beverage applications, and is well suited to yoghurt, ice cream, frozen novelties, smoothies, cereal, bars and confections….

FoodIngredientsFirst: Read the full article

Related reading:

Cargill’s breakthrough sweetener presents a marketing challenge – August 11, 2016

The product, called EverSweet, got a GRAS stamp of approval in June from the FDA as safe for people to consume in food and beverages. But at a time when foodies and activists around the world debate food origins, labels and health claims, Cargill faces an enormous marketing challenge with its breakthrough ingredient.

See more about EverSweet here…

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