Why Is Organic Stevia So Difficult to Achieve?

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: A http :// www.nutritionaloutlook.com/ herbs-botanicals/ why-organic-stevia-so-difficult-achieve

Even as consumer demand for organic products grows at double-digit rates, per latest USDA estimates, challenges remain for sourcing organic stevia, for various reasons. Suppliers say that it is difficult, for example, to discovery an appropriate and affordable supplying of organic ethanol, which is used in organic-stevia extraction.

Another challenge is discovering stevia ingredients that are truly pesticide-free, tells Margaret Gomes, director of marketing for supplier NP Nutra( Gardena, CA ). She notes that it is difficult to grow stevia without the use of pesticides. Lately, however, her company announces that it has added an organic stevia P.E. 90% ingredient to its offerings.

NP Nutraas ingredient is certified organic, Gomes tells, but the company does not will vary depending on the word of manufacturing partners that their raw material are organic . Oftentimes, she tells, the company has found that even ingredients that raw-material suppliers pass off as certified organic are not truly organic grade.

aBecause it is not easy to grow stevia leaves without the use of pesticides , not that many companies offer organic stevia that is free of pesticide residues, a Gomes tells. aWe have had many instances where we have tested products with all the organic certifications, yet there have been issues, particularly with pesticide residues over the 0.01 ppm limit.a

For this reason, Gomes says, NP Nutra always plenty exams all of its organic stevia itself through its Triple-T Verification Programaa program introduced last year that includes a battery of pesticide and contaminant testsain order be respected by organic regulations. aNP Nutra doesnat rely on the supplier certifications to validate our organic products; we test them ourselves, a she says.

The Triple-T program also includes strict vendor-qualification protocols, including on-site audit, and ingredient traceability via transaction certifications. Gomes says that finding a quality raw-material supplier is a difficult task and that NP Nutra was fortunate to find its organic stevia supplier. aWe currently source our organic stevia from China, a Gomes tells. aAfter sourcing and testing stevia samples from different countries, we found that our existing manufacturing partner is the only one that has all the required quality procedures in place. We are currently evaluating a secondary manufacturing partner from another country as well.a

In order to grow the organic stevia supply, she tells, suppliers are forging the partnership agreement with stevia leaf farmers and working with stevia agriculture associations for supporting. For now, Gomes tells, aIt appearsa | that supplying of organic stevia will not catch up with demand for a few more years.a

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: http :// www.nutritionaloutlook.com/ herbs-botanicals/ why-organic-stevia-so-difficult-achieve

Minor Stevia Extracts Like Reb M and Reb D Are in High Demand. How Can Stevia Suppliers Scale Up Supply ?

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: A http :// www.nutritionaloutlook.com/ herbs-botanicals/ minor-stevia-extracts-reb-m-and-reb-d-are-high-demand-how-can-stevia-suppliers-scale-supply

Stevia( Stevia rebaudiana) has made great global steps in merely a decade as a zero-calorie food and beverage sweetener. In March, stevia supplier PureCircle( Chicago ), together with market researcher Mintel, reported that the worldwide number of foods and beverages launched with stevia was increased by more than 10% in 2017 over 2016, with 3500 such products launched in 2017 alone. Overall, they calculated, stevia is now present in more than 16,000 food and beverage products across the globe. Also, as stevia use grows, this plant-based sweetener is taking market share from other high-intensity, low-calorie sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, and acesulfame potassium. In 2017, Mintel told, stevia was more widely used than aspartame in foods and beverages containing high-intensity sweeteners.

The drive toward stevia is the direct result of growing global concerns about obesity and diabetes prevalence, and a subsequent effort to reduce sugar consumption among customers young and old. Mintel noted that the number of stevia-containing food and beverages launched specifically for young children grew a whopping 16% between 2016 and 2017.

Whether itas in beverages, snacks, dairy products, or confectionery, the opportunities for stevia are ripeaand ripening further as suppliers improve the savour of their stevia ingredients.

Some suppliers are now working on producing greater sums of the stevia leafas minor steviol glycosides, like rebaudiosides M and D, which are said to savor more sugar-like compared to the more common steviol glycoside rebaudioside A.( Some Reb A sweeteners are said to have a bitter, or licorice-like, aftertaste .)

Unfortunately, minor glycosides like Reb M and Reb D are still in smaller render compared to a major glycoside like Reb A. This is chiefly because there is a much smaller quantity of these minor glycosides in the stevia leaf compared to a glycoside like Reb A.

For suppliers, the question right now is how best to increase access to glycosides like Reb M and D. Some believe the answer is still rooted in stevia foliage extractionanamely, gradually breeding stevia leaves that yield higher percentages of the minor glycosides.( As discussed later, some companies are also further enzymatically treating their stevia foliage extracts to improve savour .) This kind of plant breeding takes time, however, and, as one can imagine, significant scale-up of these glycosides within the leaf can take years, often decades, to achieve.

On the other hand, one company, Cargill( Minneapolis ), has finally come to marketplace with a stevia ingredient itas been developing for yearsaone that does not involve traditional foliage extraction at all. Dubbed EverSweet, this Reb M and Reb D sweetener is produced using fermentation.( Cargill worked with fermentation ingredient specialist Evolva in Reinach, Switzerland, to render EverSweet .) While EverSweet is not removed from the stevia foliage, that is exactly the point, the companies would say. EverSweetas Reb M and Reb D glycosides can be produced through fermentation alone( in fermentation tanks ), entailing one does not have to rely on plant breed, agricultural farming, or on land and water use to make it.

Opinions remain mixed on the most effective ways to scale up production of Reb M and Reb D. For instance, the companies that remain committed to the notion of leaf-based stevia say that adhering to leaf-based extraction, as opposed to fermentation, is key to preserving steviaas biggest selling point: the fact that it is a natural, zero-calorie plant-based sweetener.( Other major zero-calorie sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, and acesulfame potassium cannot say the same .)

But, in the face of growing demand for these minor glycosides, is it genuinely possible, through traditional leaf extraction, to sufficiently increase supplying and to do so in a timely manner? Or, will more food and beverage manufacturers try ingredients like Cargillas EverSweet that are produced using alternative methods?

Why Reb M and Reb D?

First, letas review again why minor glycosides like Reb M and Reb D are so darned desirable.

Listen to how ingredient supplier Ingredion( Westchester, IL) described by the Bestevia brand of Reb M and Reb D ingredients it supplies. Bestevia Reb M, launched in 2017, ais 300 days sweetener than sugar and offers a sweet savor experience that is very sugar-like, a says Afrouz Naeini, senior marketing manager, sweetness and liquor, Ingredion. aThe clean sweetness, coupled with the absence of bitter aftertaste that is typically associated with stevia sweeteners, enables formulators to replace up to 100% sugar in their product design employing a naturally based stevia sweetener.a( Ingredion distributes the Bestevia line on behalf of the ingredientsa developer SweeGen, which is located in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA .)

Bestevia Reb D offers similar benefits, tells Kurt Callaghan, marketing manager, global sweetness innovation, Ingredion. aReb D has a cleaner taste than traditional stevia sweeteners, and sensory mapping shows that Reb D has a sweetness time intensity closer to sucrose than other stevia products, a he says.

Because steviol glycosides like Reb M and Reb D savour more like sugar, formulators can more easily use them to replace a greater quantity of sugaraand cut more calories in the processawithout negatively impacting product savor. The glycosidesa better savour also reduces the necessity of using taste modulators, points out Katherina Pueller, director, natural sweetener business, SweeGen. aBy use Bestevia Reb M and Reb D with that clean, sugar-like taste in their applications, formulators save expensed on bitter-maskers, a Pueller tells. And because these glycosides are 200 -3 00 times sweeter than sugar, even asmall amounts have a huge impacta on sweetening, she says.

Benefits like these are why Reb M and Reb D have come to the fore, tell Ingredion and SweeGen.( Last November, the companies jointly announced that Bestevia Reb D received a ano objectionsa Generally Acknowledged as Safe( GRAS) replies from FDA, clearing its use in U.S. foods and beverages .)

In order to get consumers to permanently switch to lower-sugar foods and beverages, formulators must ensure that these products donat sacrifice savour. As such, it would not be surprising if companies that are already engaged in formulating with steviaaincluding CPG giants like The Coca-Cola Co ., Kraft Heinz, NestlA( c ), Groupe Danone, and PepsiCoaincreasingly demand greater supplies of better-tasting steviol glycosides.

Starting with the Leaf

Currently, suppliers have different ways of producing Reb M and Reb D. Some suppliers start with stevia leaf extraction and farther apply the use of enzymes to refine taste.

Of the Bestevia process, SweeGenas Pueller says, aOur Reb M and Reb D are produced by a proprietary bioconversion process. Starting with extracts from the stevia foliage, we use enzymes as processing assistances to increase the amount of the preferred, best-tasting components. Our bioconversion process is unique and enables us to create Reb M and Reb D in great quantities.a

In short, she tells, aWe combination nature, science, and bioengineering to make sustainable products.a

FDAas recent ano objectionsa GRAS letter for Bestevia Reb D describes the process even more specifically: aThe process employs a non-pathogenic and non-toxicogenic strain of Pichia pastoris( derived from P. pastoris ATCC 20864) conveying a uridine-5a-diphospho-( UDP) glucosyltransferase that catalyzes the conversion of rebaudioside A to rebaudioside D and a sucrose synthase that catalyzes the conversion of UDP to UDP-glucose.a

PureCircle also utilizes enzymes to render some of its stevia ingredients. In a 2016 Nutritional Outlook interview, Faith Son, PureCircleas vice president of marketing and invention, described the process the company utilizes for some of its ingredients this route: aWithin our portfolio, we also have leaf-based ingredients that are glycosylated, a she said. aThese ingredients start with a traditional stevia foliage extract thatas purified to 95%, and with the use of natural enzymes, add glucose or other sugar molecules to improve taste. We are very transparent about how these products are made and how they differ from our other leaf-based product.a

For this article, she adds, aAs the industry-leading innovator and supplier of great-tasting stevia ingredients for the global food and liquor industries, we have a responsibility to understand the various alternative technologies used to render stevia ingredients. We have specific products we offer which leveraging glycosylation, which is processed similar to traditional stevia foliage extracts, as it all begins with the stevia leaf.a

Companies extracting stevia from the leaf say that improving the savor of stevia sweeteners begins with breeding foliages that contain higher quantities of minor glycosides like Reb M and Reb D. Several of the stevia suppliers we interviewed for this article are now focused on 1) breeding leaves with higher contents of Reb M and Reb D, and 2) increasing acreage of these improved leaves.

In February, for example, PureCircle announced plans to significantly increase its acreage of StarLeaf, PureCircleas proprietary stevia plant developed through its PureCircle Agronomy Program and its expertise in traditional cross-breeding. The company tells StarLeaf ayields approximately 20 times more of the newest and best-tasting stevia leaf sweeteners than conventional stevia varieties.a Son specifies that StarLeaf offer higher concentrations of Reb M and Reb D, along with some other rare glycosides. It also contains Reb A.

A lot of the StarLeaf scale-up is happening in North Carolina, where lands once used to grow tobacco are now being used to grow StarLeaf. Sweet Green Fields( Bellingham, WA) is another stevia supplier who has grown stevia in North Carolina.

Son says PureCircleas agricultural partnerships are economic opportunities to farmers in the area. aWe discovered that the skillset for growing tobacco translates extremely well to growing stevia, a she says. aNorth Carolina also has the clay and climate conditions conducive to growing stevia plants. We are also able to provide North Carolinaas tobacco farmers with new economic opportunities due to the declining demand for tobacco.a

In a press release, PureCircle stated, aExpanding the planting and use of[ our] proprietary StarLeaf stevia leaf will enable the company to gratify the increasing demand of[ the] food and liquor industries for the best-tastingaand most sugar-likeazero-calorie stevia sweeteners.a

Son says PureCircleas long-term plan is to convert all of its stevia crop to StarLeaf. The conversion process is happening in stages. The company said it plans to plant 16,000 tons of StarLeaf this year and estimated that 80% of the stevia plants it uses this year will be StarLeaf; by next year, it said, this percentage could be as high as 90%.

In a press release announcing the new StarLeaf plantings, James Foxton, PureCircleas vice president of agriculture operations, told, aWe look forward to providing food and liquor companies access to the most sugar-like content from the leaf, at a scale which has never before been possible.a

Other stevia suppliers are also focusing on agronomy improvements to render more of the minor glycosides. Elaine Yu, chairwoman of stevia and monk fruit supplier Layn USA Inc.( Newport Beach, CA ), says her company has an innovation center in Shanghai afocused on to enhance the yield of exotic steviol glycosides like Reb C and Reb D.a

In February, two companies, natural-sweeteners supplier GLG Life Tech Corp.( GLG; Richmond, BC, Canada) and ingredients firm Archer Daniels Midland( ADM; Decatur, IL ), collectively announced the debut of their new Reb M ingredient, which is produced from GLGas proprietary Dream Sweetener stevia foliage. They said this leaf is aexceptionally higha in Reb M, in addition to containing Reb A and Reb D. Brian Meadows, GLGas president, tells this is the first time the company is furnishing a Reb M ingredient.

GLG and ADM take care to point out that this new Reb M product line is physically extracted from the stevia leaf and produced without the use of fermenting or enzymatic processing. A press release from the companies countries: aOther vying products in the market use chemical treatments or are produced using fermenting processes that employ non-natural, bioengineered fermentation organisms and enzymes.a The companies say that because their ingredients do not use fermenting or enzymatic processing, they give formulators greater leeway to use them in countries athat otherwise do not permit use of stevia extracts when produced using bioconversion or fermentation methods.a In addition, they say, aBecause there are no enzyme enrichment or fermentation techniques employed in the production of GLGas Reb M product line, they are also clean-label ingredients, an added benefit to formulators looking to meet the growing demand for clean and clear labelsa | a

Meadows provides a quick overview of the process GLG went through to develop the Dream Sweetener foliage. a GLG developed its highaReb M Dream Sweetener seedling over the past five years, a he says. The company first publicly announced it had created a highaReb M seedling back in 2015. That seedling contained 4% Reb M as percentage points of total steviol glycosides. aHistorically, stevia seedlings contained less than 1% of Reb M as percentage points of total steviol glycosides, a Meadows tells. For comparing, he tells, aThis highaReb M seedling was a 1000% increase in Reb M compared to the levels contained in GLGas Reb A seedlings.a

A year later, in 2016, GLG announced an improved version of the seedling, one that contains 8% Reb M as percentage points of total steviol glycosides. In 2017, GLG began planting this 8% aReb M seedling, and it now serves as the source of the new Reb M ingredient GLG and ADM are selling commercially.

Meadows tells GLGas goal is to continue increasing the percentage of Reb M in the foliage. a GLG is focusing on developing even higher concentrations of Reb M in the Dream Sweetener foliage and has two agricultural programs focusing on achieving this.a He tells the company is also working with aa leading agricultural universitya to increase Reb M yields. Last year, the research partnership achieved a amajor breakthrougha: seedlings that contain more than 50% Reb M as a percentage of total steviol glycosides, he says. GLG may commercialize this new assortment in the future, Meadows tells, and also plans to increase the amount of Dream Sweetener leaves it grows.

Breeding Takes Time

Agronomy advancements via traditional plant breed donat happen overnight. Dean Francis, CEO of supplier Sweet Green Fields, says his company has been anaturally breeding[ its] stevia assortments to improve yields and the taste for over a decade.a

He briefly touches on some of the breeding challenges suppliers can encounter. For instance, he tells, aItas known that a variety that presents a high content of steviol glycosides or strong resistance to diseases in one region may not be able to perform equally well if it is grown in another region.a

Farmers also grow these leaves at the compassion of Mother Nature. In its press release announcing the scale-up of StarLeaf, PureCircle cautioned that, aas with any agricultural harvest, a the scale-up of StarLeaf plantings is asubject to various conditions such as weather.a

Enter EverSweet

Cargill says that its EverSweet sweetener sidesteps agricultural challenges because it doesnat rely on land use and plant breed to render . Instead, through fermentation, the company tells it can quickly scale up production of Reb M and Reb D.

EverSweetas development did not happen overnight; to the contrary, Cargill and Evolva have been refining its production process for years. Eventually, this March, the companies announced that the ingredient is officially in commercial production.

EverSweet contains the glycosides Reb M and Reb D. Mandy Kennedy, Cargillas senior marketing administrator, describes EverSweetas advantages: aOnly a tiny fraction( less than 1 %) of these sweetest steviol glycosides, Reb D and Reb M, are found in the stevia foliage. With such small quantities available in the plant, it would require significant land use and render too much wasteaameaning, any unused parts of the leafaato be commercially or environmentally viable.a

She concludes, aProducing them through fermenting is an inherently more sustainable and cost-efficient style to make the best-tasting steviol glycosides available in sufficient sums in the mass market.a Fermentation, the firm tells, means there is aflexibility to expand[ EverSweetas production] rapidly and cost-effectively.a Cargill tells supply is also consistent; by taking place in fermenting tanks, EverSweetas production isnat affected by variables that impact traditional agriculture, like poor weather.

Kennedy describes EverSweetas process thusly: aWe feed dextrose( a simple sugar made from corn) to the yeast during the fermentation process. The yeast renders two of the sweetest steviol glycosides found in the leaf, Reb D and Reb M. We divide the yeast from the Reb D and Reb M compounds during the purification process.a

An Alernative

Cargill emphasized that it does not propose EverSweet as a complete replacer of leaf-based stevia ingredients. In fact, the company still offers and continues to grow its own portfolio of leaf-derived stevia ingredients, including its ViaTech line. The company also continues to work on breeding improved stevia leavesaand, in fact, Kennedy points out that Cargillas expertise in growing canola crops also informs the companyas best practices for breeding stevia plants.

Instead of replacing leaf-based stevia, Kennedy says, aEverSweet is meant to open new market opportunities where stevia foliage extract does not play today. Our new sweetener will give consumers more options for great-tasting, reduced- and zero-calorie products.a

At the Natural Product Expo West trade show in Anaheim, CA, in March, Kennedy said the market could even ensure products launching with EverSweet in the following financial year or two. She added that, like with stevia sweeteners in general, liquors are often an easier place to start because, unlike with food products, formulators do not have to worry as much about the bulking properties and texture that are lost when replacing sugar with a high-intensity sweetener like stevia.

The EverSweet launch was postponed initially, principally because Cargill and Evolva needed to further improve the processas glycoside yields and cost parameters, Kennedy told Nutritional Outlook at Natural Products Expo West. aOver hour, weave increased the efficient functioning of the yeast turning basic sugars into steviol glycosides, as well as improved the efficient functioning of the purification step. This has allowed us to render EverSweet sweetener cost-efficiently.a

Now, she says, aCargill has achieved a suitable scale and cost-efficient supplying of the sweetest steviol glycosides, Reb D and Reb M, through fermentation.a

Exploring All Avenues

Moving forward, Cargillas stevia portfolio looks like it will comprise a combination of leaf-based stevia ingredients and stevia ingredients produced through alternative means.

Other industry leaders are also evaluating their own production processes. In April, PureCircle published a press statement noting that, in addition to focusing on extracting higher amounts of Reb M and Reb D from StarLeaf, the company is also exploring other avenues in an attempt to produce more of those glycosides.

In the statement, the company said it anow has two waysa of producing Reb D and Reb M. It told: aPureCircle continues to produce Reb D and Reb M by extracting them from its proprietary StarLeaf plants. But now it can also create Reb D and Reb M in much greater scale, directly employing the more abundant Reb A in the production process. The Reb D and Reb M produced from the two processes are from the stevia foliage and are identical in great taste.a Carolyn Clark, PureCircleas director of global marketing, says that the details of the process involving Reb A are proprietary, but adds, aThe most important takeaway is all the Reb M and D we render are from the stevia plant and are identical in great taste.a

In its public statement, the company further noted that more consumer brands are aalready using PureCircleas Reb D and Reb M in their productsa and that aPureCircleas expansion in production of Reb D and Reb M will increase the supplying of these stevia sweeteners with the most sugar-like taste.a The company said itas already begun aramping upa production of Reb D and Reb M, with PureCircle CEO Maga Malsagov stating that alarge-scale volumes are now available at attractive prices.a

aThat will help the beverage and food companies get access to an ingredient there is a requirement to, as they continue to respond to their consumersa desires for more zero- and low-calorie products using plant-based sweeteners, a the company added.

To Market, To Market

As stevia suppliers introduce different types of Reb M and Reb D sweeteners, in the end, formulatorsaand, possibly, well-informed end-use customersawill determine which type is right for them. Each has its advantages.

For instance, Sweet Green Fieldsa Francis says, aIn the long term, it is likely that stevia sweeteners produced by fermentation and/ or bioconversion may be lower cost versus traditional stevia extracts.a However, he says, aalthough bioconversion starts with the stevia leaf and converts to a targeted glycoside, fermentation is a completely different processa and that ato create a stevia glycoside from fermenting does not even use stevia leaf whatsoever.a

Meanwhile, Kennedy says that EverSweet dedicates formulators who may have had difficulty sourcing Reb M and Reb D other options. aWhat wead been hearing from formulators is, aI genuinely wishes to get my hands on Reb M or Reb D, but I canat track any down from foliage, a Kennedy said at Natural Products Expo West. These formulators might now try EverSweet instead.

Companies also have another option for improving stevia-sweetener savor, which is to formulate with a blend of glycosides, both major and minor. As Laynas Yu says, aToday, we are seeing more and more CPG companies combining multiple steviol glycosides because the combining offer a better customized sweet solution.a

Many stevia suppliers agree that mixes are a good answer. This includes blends with various glycosides as well as with another type of sweeteners.

At Natural Products Expo West, for example, Kennedy said that while EverSweet can serve as the sole sweetener in some product applications, aI think weare going to see combinations with EverSweetaasuch as those marrying EverSweet and leaf-derived stevia ingredients. Products containing both could be labeled as containing both astevia leaf extracta and asteviol glycosidesa( from EverSweet ), she said.

aWe have research that shows that when you combine stevia foliage extract with steviol glycosides on a label, thereas an overall improvement in purchase intent and the overall halo of healthfulness, a she added. Other Cargill sweetening ingredients, such as chicory root fiber, can also pair with stevia.

GLG/ ADM point out that their highaReb M ingredient ablends well with other sweeteners, such as monk fruit and sugar alcohols, to create balanced sweetness.a

As for PureCircle, Son tells, aThrough all of our research at the application level, weave found that a combination approachablends of glycosidesais often what is most successful.a

She continues: aWe have learned there is tremendous advantages to utilizing the entirety of the stevia leaf in formulations. When blends of the individual stevia ingredients come together, they create certain taste synergies, which can result in improved savour performance and contradict the need for masking agents.a

Blends are also likely necessary, frankly, while suppliers work on optimizing Reb M and Reb Das production and cost in use. Son says, aAs we scale, these ingredients are going to become more readily available for utilize by companies operating globally or on a smaller scale.a In the meantime, she underlines, aWe believe it is important to look at how combinations of various steviol glycosides can provide synergies and the most sugar-like savour within various applications. Often, it is mixtures of stevia ingredients which yield superior taste performance compared to single-ingredient solutions.a

And, lest we forget: applications expertise is also key. A supplieras ability to pair the right type of glycoside and sweetener blend with the right type of product application in order to maximize efficacy as a sugar replacer is invaluable. Stevia suppliers with expertise offering specific sweetening solutions tailored to specific types of products, whether it be dairy products, beverages, or others, will find themselves a step ahead of the competition.

From Minor to Major

Within the stevia foliage is a world of sweetening possibilities waiting to be discovered. As stevia suppliers tap into the leafas next generation of steviol glycosides, they will continue teasing out better-tasting glycosides and figuring out ways to create these glycosides at commercial scale. In short, one day, these minor glycosides could be major.

Son describes PureCircleas dreams for the future stevia market, and it sounds like the dreamings of many a stevia supplier. aOur vision has always been to create a global mass marketplace for a natural-origin sweetener, and to make it affordable for global brands. The key to doing this is to increase the global supplying of the very best-tasting stevia ingredients.a

If suppliers can figure out how to scale up render of these glycosides in a way thatas successful in the market, thereas no telling how far stevia can go.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: http :// www.nutritionaloutlook.com/ herbs-botanicals/ minor-stevia-extracts-reb-m-and-reb-d-are-high-demand-how-can-stevia-suppliers-scale-supply

Source: Nutritional Outlook

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