In the midst of the implementation of the UK sugar tax and the rising popularity of sugar-free foods, food manufacturers have been searching for a sweet solution to their bitter challenges in developing sweetened products with zero-sugar. Cargill claims to have found a solution to these challenges with the launch of their new sweetener product which is made from Reb M and Reb D glycosides – components of the stevia leaf that give it its sweet taste.
According to Cargill, their new EverSweet sweetener can provide up to 100 percent sugar replacement in food products. Cargill claims that EverSweet does not have the bitter aftertaste that many stevia sweeteners have because they have utilized only the sweetest glycosides within the stevia leaf – Reb M and Reb D – which are known to not have a bitter aftertaste.
However, Reb M and Reb D glycosides make up only 1 percent of the stevia leaf, which is why most companies make stevia sweeteners using the more common Reb A glycoside. Instead of planting acres of stevia plants in order to source Reb M and Reb D glycosides, Cargill has developed a much more sustainable fermentation technique to produce large quantities of Reb M and Reb D for EverSweet. By utilizing specially crafted baker yeast, Cargill’s food scientists were able to convert simple sugars into Reb D and Reb M. The result is a zero-calorie sweetener with the same sweet taste of stevia without its unappealing aftertaste.
“Cargill has set a new benchmark for sweetness without calories with our EverSweet sweetener,” said 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.”
This innovative sweetener couldn’t have been launched at a better time. With Britain’s sugar tax officially in effect, food and beverage manufactures have been trying to reinvent their sweetened products by incorporating stevia or reducing the sizes and servings of their products. Major US food companies have been doing the same as they try to appeal to the growing number of health-focused consumers. However, many purely stevia-sweetened products have been receiving negative reviews over their bitter aftertastes. This is why food companies are cautious in relying purely on stevia for sugar-replacements.
However, technological advancements have made it possible for food companies to extract specific glycosides within the stevia leaf that do not contribute to the bitter aftertaste of the overall plant. Cargill’s new fermentation technique is a game changer as it is able to convert ordinary simple sugars into the Reb M and Reb D glycosides. This new technique might attract more socially conscious consumers because it requires less land and CO2 than traditional stevia plant production.
Coca-Cola is also marketing a new product that utilizes the Reb M glycosides found within the stevia leaf. Coke Stevia No-Sugar was launched in New Zealand as a test but the company’s new product has caught the attention of an international audience. Ingredient companies such as Pure Circle and Ingredion have also introduced new sweeteners with Reb M glycosides.
As the demand for reduced-sugar and sugar-free products continues to grow, food manufacturers now have the option to utilize sweeteners that are naturally sourced. By only using stevia-sourced sweeteners in product formulations, food manufacturers can produce low-calorie or zero-calorie products with clean labels, which in turn will attract more consumers.