SweeGen receives GRAS status for stevia ingredient Reb B

Source: fooddive.com

Dive Brief:

  • SweeGen received Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status for its Bestevia Rebaudioside B (Reb B) stevia-based sweetener, according to a press release.
  • Bestevia Reb B is found in trace amounts in the stevia plant’s leaves. The company uses what it calls a proprietary bioconversion technology to produce its stevia-based sweeteners.
  • The new offering comes less than a year after SweeGen debuted its Reb I clean label stevia ingredient, targeting dairy, beverage, nutrition bar, confectionery, and savory products.

Dive Insight:

Consumers are working hard to reduce their sugar intake, increasing demand for low- and no-sugar products. This has sent manufacturers searching for sugar alternatives that provide the same flavor profile without compromising other attributes like texture, aftertaste, or product formulation. 

With its rapidly expanding stevia-based sugar alternative portfolio, SweeGen is hoping to fill the need for naturally derived sugar substitutes that preserve flavor, texture, and overall composition. The more options SweeGen offers, the more likely product makers will find a formulation that fits their needs without compromising consumer satisfaction. For example, SweeGen is targeting the rapidly expanding hard seltzer space with its Reb I sweetener, which can replace up to 3 grams of added sugar per serving.

Stevia has proven popular among many consumers because it offers a naturally derived option to artificial sweeteners and also has some reported health benefits, such as reducing blood pressure. In 2018, the number of new global product launches containing stevia jumped 31% over the prior year, according to Mintel’s Global New Products Database. Manufacturers are also opting for natural sugar substitutes now that they are required to list the amount of added sugar on the Nutrition Facts label.

Finding a suitable swap for real sugar is no small feat, however. Sugar provides texture, structure, color, and increased shelf-life for products. When it’s replaced with something else, each of those variables can be impacted, and not always for the better. In fact, three out of five U.S. consumers would rather reduce their sugar intake than add artificial sweeteners to their diets, according to recent research from Innova Market Insights.

And stevia presents problems with its tendency to leave a bitter aftertaste. There are also challenges around extracting some of the isolates inside the plant that provide a better flavor profile.

SweeGen says part of what makes its approach unique is its use of proprietary technologies to extract glycosides found in the leaf that combat the bitter aftertaste. It also announced plans last year to open four Food and Beverage Application Centers across the globe that will focus on collaborations with ingredient customers to find the right product formulations.

However, competition is fierce between stevia ingredient producers who are using similar technologies to address bitterness. Key players in this realm include PureCircle, Pyure, and Apura Ingredients. PureCircle is in the midst of a patent infringement battle with SweeGen over its Reb A sweetener.

Meanwhile, major ingredients manufacturer Tate & Lyle acquired stevia maker Sweet Green Fields in December 2020 after entering into a distribution agreement with the company in 2017.