Layn Corp developed a proprietary variety of non-GMO monk fruit containing 20% more of the sweet components called mogrosides, according to a company release.
The company's Super V Fruit variety can help food and beverage manufacturers with sugar reduction and limit the land, water and other resources needed to produce monk fruit, the company said.
The new variety will be harvested this fall in Guilin, China, from plants developed by Layn's breeding programs, and commercial volumes will be processed in the company's extraction facility. Elaine Yu, president of Layn USA told Food Ingredients 1st the company is expanding the growing region for monk fruit to other suitable areas and increasing production capacity.
Layn Corp., which is based in China, has been developing this new variety of monk fruit for quite some time. The company said it has been increasing the sweetness component from 0.3% to 0.5% in the past 10 years, and its 2020 goal is to increase it to 1%.
Layn partnered with Swiss flavor and fragrance company Firmenich last year to distribute natural sweeteners. The deal was seen as a firm foothold for Firmenich to distribute monk fruit and stevia extracts in international markets and for key Layn customers in China. Should this arrangement also cover the new Super V Fruit variety, it could mean additional market share for Layn's most recent innovation with the natural sweetener.
Monk fruit has been around for centuries, but it has only been used fairly recently as a sweetener for foods and beverages. It received generally recognized as safe status from the Food and Drug Administration in 2010. It is 100 to 250 times sweeter than sugar, contains no calories and has a zero glycemic index — so it can be used by diabetics. Research has shown that monk fruit's mogrosides can have antioxidant properties.
As consumers limit sugar in their diet and turn to natural sweeteners, monk fruit has drawn increased interest. If this new Super V Fruit variety can help replace sugar and works well with product formulations, the company could achieve increased market share and profit at the same time.
Stevia continues to compete with monk fruit as a sugar replacer, but Layn USA President Elaine Yu told Food Ingredients 1st extracts from both plants can work together in some applications. The company has combined them into its Lovia sweetener product, which debuted in 2013. The idea was to emphasize monk fruit's sweet taste while reducing the sometimes bitter aftertaste of stevia.
Since most commercial monk fruit production is based in China, Layn is well positioned to take advantage of the market with its Shanghai facility, which opened in 2017 and quadrupled production capacity for both monk fruit and stevia extracts. The company noted it has long-standing relationships with farmers in the area and is able to maintain control over its supply chain.
Layn is not alone in developing natural sweeteners from monk fruit. According to Food Insight, the sweetener is showing up in soft drinks, juices, dairy products, desserts, candies and condiments under the brand names Nectresse from McNeil Nutritionals, PureLo from Swanson, Purefruit made by Tate & Lyle, Fruit-Sweetness from BioVittoria and Monk Fruit in the Raw by In the Raw Sweeteners.
Utah-based Lakanto, part of Japan's Saraya Co., Ltd., has recently expanded the reach of its monk fruit products from the U.S., Canada and Asia into Australia and New Zealand., and California firm Senomyx is developing a monk fruit-based sweetener it calls siratose.
As production increases and monk fruit appears in more food and beverage items, chances are Layn and other suppliers will have plenty of work ahead to keep up with demand. Though a sweeter extract could be especially lucrative — and solidify Layn's rank among monk fruit providers.