“For centuries people have turned to the stevia leaf as a source of sweetness and when we started out in the US people were using ground up leaves,” Alyssa Leyva, sales leader of nutrition and health at Cargill, told BeverageDaily at IFT in Las Vegas.
Stevia received FDA approval in 2008 for use in food and beverages. Cargill launched its first stevia portfolio that same year under its Truvia brand, which contained the glycoside Reb A for customers looking for deep calorie reductions in their products.
After conducting additional research to fully understand each of the 50 different glycosides, Cargill debuted its ViaTech portfolio in 2013.
“We’re seeing a lot of progression in the stevia space and we’re seeing globally more adoption in the use of it,” Leyva said.
Development of EverSweet
Through its research, the company found trace amounts of the glycosides Reb M and Reb D in the stevia leaf, which offer heightened sweetness with a body and mouthfeel similar to real sugar, according to Cargill.
“Because they’re in such small quantities to extract them from the leaf alone there’s really challenges from a cost perspective but even more so from an availability of supply,” Leyva said.
“Customers that have major brands want to be assured that they’re going to have the supply necessary to support a new product launch so what Cargill did was look to new pathways to be able to support and derive Reb M and Reb D.”
Cargill found that through fermentation it was able to create the same Reb M and Reb D molecules but in much larger quantities for its customers.
“We’re actively sampling customers and working across a variety of applications,” Leyva added.
The EverSweet ingredient will be labeled as “steviol glycosides” or “Reb M, Reb D” on the ingredient panel once it becomes commercially available in 2018.
Building back mouthfeel
Sugar-reduction continues to be an important trend in the beverage category but maintaining a desirable mouthfeel can be a challenge, according to Michelle Kozora, technical service manager for Cargill texturizing solutions.
“When you have a sweeter beverage, people perceive that to have more of a mouthfeel,” Kozora said.
However, the process of replacing real sugar with a sweetener alters the mouthfeel of a beverage.
“We use things like pectin or some of our hydrocolloids to build in that mouthfeel to round out and give a full flavor profile.”
The advantage of EverSweet is that unlike other stevia products it provides sweetness without bitterness or a licorice aftertaste, creating a more rounded taste profile with a faster onset of sweetness for manufacturers looking for deep calorie reductions.