There's no doubt about it; consumers are avoiding sugar. According to Mintel research1, 87% of shoppers are limiting the amount of sugar in their diet, with disease prevention and weight management as their key reasons for reduction.
As the FDA's updated Nutrition Facts panel makes it onto packaging in 2020, consumers are now more easily able to identify a product's "Added Sugars," and how it fits into their daily consumption as recommended by % Daily Value.
While traditional sugar and calorie reduction may have been achievable by artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, or acesulfame-k, studies suggest unknown long-term effects on gut microbiota that could potentially induce glucose intolerance (Source nature13793). Furthermore, according to Mintel research1, 60% of shoppers believe artificial sweeteners are bad for your health.
For these reasons, a growing number of food and beverage brands are leaning on stevia as their source of sweetness. According to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), 2% of food and drink products launched in North America between 2018-19 contained stevia extract. This level of commercial interest has spurred innovation, pushing the envelope of stevia sweeteners past the traditionally used leaf extracted Reb A.
Further advancement of alternative glycosides has shifted focus to compounds such as Reb D and Reb M. The drawback of such alternative glycosides is that they exist in the leaf at such low concentrations that their isolation can be cost prohibitive. Further advancement of alternative glycosides has shifted focus to compounds such as Reb D and Reb M. The drawback of such alternative glycosides is that they exist in the leaf at such low concentrations that their isolation can be cost prohibitive.
There are three approaches to develop alternative glycosides economically. Below you'll find a quick summary of the options available to you today.
Reb D and Reb M can be achieved through a fermentation process based on genetically modified yeast and feedstock, such as cane sugar or corn dextrose. The glycosides produced are nature-identical to those in the stevia leaf but do not achieve Non-GMO or Organic Certification due to the genetically modified yeast required.
2. Enzyme Modified Stevia
Through glycosylation and bio-conversion, stevia suppliers have looked to advance the industry by using an enzymatic modification of stevia leaf extract to improve taste, quality, and mouthfeel. In general, the greater the number of sugar groups attached to the steviol molecule, the better the sweetness quality. Enzyme modified stevia does not meet EU regulatory requirements for sweetener-grade steviol glycosides and is primarily sold as a flavoring and sweetness enhancer.
A. Glycosylated Stevia
Glycosylated enzyme modification increases the number of substituent sugar groups by incubating a low-cost extract with glucosyltransferase enzymes and a source of glucose. The original plant glycosides emerge modified by the addition of one or more extra glucose residues. The exact glycoside composition that results is often undetermined, and the modified glycosides are not nature-identical to Reb A, Reb D, or Reb M. Glycosylated stevia usually also contains some unreacted glucose and a small number of unreacted feedstock glycosides.
B. Bio-converted Stevia
This new approach uses enzymes to change leaf extracted Reb A glycosides into Reb D and Reb M. This differs from "glycosylated enzyme modification" in that bioconversion enzymes are highly specific and create nature-identical Reb D and Reb M. Commercial supplies of these bio-converted glycosides were beginning to become commercially available in 2018 and can be labeled as Stevia Leaf Extract in the USA.
3. Stevia Leaf Extract – Glycoside Blends
To date, the largest barrier to widespread Reb D and Reb M inclusion in formulations has been cost. Consumer demand is driving nearly all food and beverage producers to consider sugar reduction across the board, but the increased ingredient costs associated with these products are another commercialization challenge. As aforementioned technology and extraction techniques improve, costs associated with high purity Reb M will undoubtedly go down, but in the interim, the most cost-effective solution is to utilize glycoside blends. This holds especially true for organic certified sugar-reduced products, which need to have ingredients that meet the standards set forth by the National Organic Program (NOP).
Fermented, glycosylated, and bio-converted Reb M sweeteners currently do not satisfy these standards due to the use of processing aids such as genetically modified yeast strains and GMO corn or sugar cane. Pyure's innovative approach to glycoside blending allows for organic and Non-GMO certified finished material, labeled as Stevia Leaf Extract, meeting the needs of a wide array of customers.
As a leader in the organic natural sweetener industry with branded products on the shelves of thousands of retailers across the country, it was important for Pyure to bring economically viable, organic certified Reb M and Reb D ingredients to market.
Reach out to [email protected] for details on their glycoside blend, Pyure Prime, and their full line of sugar reduction focused ingredients.
- Mintel Reports US, Sugar and Alternative Sweeteners, 2018