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Improved stevia sweetener goes into commercial production

As sugar reduction remains a key theme in food and beverage formulation, Avansya, the joint venture (JV) between Cargill and DSM, has started production at the first commercial-scale fermentation facility for EverSweet stevia sweeteners.

Andy Ohmes, from Cargill, says that “some of the first commercial products made using EverSweet are already on the shelves in the US and that by the new year, there will be more of the EverSweet sweetened products on the market across various categories.”

Cargill and DSM announced their intention to establish this JV in November 2018, subject to regulatory approvals. 

“This is the most significant investment in the commercial production of steviol glycosides produced by fermentation in North America,” says Ohmes. 

Stevia’s initial excitement as an option between full-caloric natural and non-caloric artificial options was soon dulled by poor taste.

Most stevia ingredients are based from Reb A, the most abundant glycoside in the leaf that can turn bitter when using it in high volumes.

Cargill first partnered with Evolva to develop the fermentation technology needed to extract Reb M and Reb D, sweeter-tasting compounds that make up less than 1% of the stevia leaf, and are much more difficult and expensive to use – until now.

Application opportunities

According to Ohmes, the beverage category has always been the most significant category for high potency sweeteners.

“We see a lot of new products driven by the labelling law changes in the US, involving confectionery, dairy, bakery and even in indulgent categories where you have never really heard about sugar reduction in the past.

“Consumers still want to indulge, but they may not want as many calories or sugar as previously. So we see opportunities across the board and EverSweet can fill these gaps.”

Ohmes says that EverSweet can provide up to 100% sugar reduction in a typical carbonated drink, while its ViaTech stevia ingredient can only reach 70% and basic stevia leaf extract can only reach 30%.

“With an industrial-scale process like fermentation, you can end up with a fantastic tasting product. Many experts are positively and pleasantly surprised by how clean tasting EverSweet is,” says Oscar Goddijn, Avansya CEO.

“This allows our customers to keep their taste profiles very simple and straightforward. EverSweet has a sugar like taste profile overall, customers are very pleased with the taste.”

Global approvals in the pipeline

EverSweet is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS), and the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association of the US (FEMA) GRAS approved for use in food and beverage products in the US and Mexico and additional regulatory approvals for use in other countries are underway.

EverSweet’s clean taste profile is well-suited for use in products such as yogurt, chocolate milk, soft drinks, ice cream, cereal bars and confections. Avansya has commercial volumes available and is already supplying EverSweet to various customers in the US and Mexico.  

In Europe, however, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) approval takes a little longer. Therefore, Ohmes says products using EverSweet “could be available in around two years,” with other global locations, like Latin America, Australia and New Zealand, to  come “within the year.”

The market for high-intensity sweeteners produced by fermentation is expected to exceed $3-billion by 2025, according to Cargill and DSM. The new $50-million fermentation facility is located in Blair, Nebraska, and is operated by Cargill. 

Source: FoodIngredientsFirst.com, DSM

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