USA – Avansya, the joint venture between Cargill and Royal DSM, has started production of stevia sweeteners at the new US$50 million commercial-scale fermentation facility in Blair, Nebraska, US.

The 10,000 square-foot stevia sweetener fermentation facility is producing a non-artificial, zero-calorie stevia sweetener called EverSweet, allowing the companies to meet consumers’ increasing demand for reduced-calorie foods and beverages.

Cargill explained that the fermentation facility produces highly sought-after, sweet-tasting molecules, such as Reb M and Reb D used to make EverSweet.

With the product, the companies said that food and beverage manufacturers will have access to more scalable, sustainable and low cost-in-use solution compared to molecules extracted from the stevia leaf.

EverSweet’s ‘clean taste profile’ is well-suited for use in products such as yogurt, chocolate milk, soft drinks, ice cream, cereal, bars and confections.

Speaking at the opening, Cargill managing director and chairman of the Board of Avansya, Mike Wagner said:

“Building this first-of-its-kind, stevia sweetener fermentation facility on the existing Cargill Blair campus reaffirms our pledge to helping food and beverage manufacturers meet the sharply rising consumer demand for great-tasting, zero-calorie products to meet their dietary needs and goals.

“It also reaffirms our commitment to strengthening the business community and Nebraska as a biotechnology mecca.”

Patrick Niels, President of DSM Food Specialties and Avansya Board Member added: “The need for effective solutions for advanced sugar reduction on a global scale has never been clearer or more urgent.

“With today’s opening, we are showing that, as an industry, we can do more, and faster, to innovate and provide consumers around the world with reduced- and zero-calorie food and beverage products, with no compromise on taste, and so help support good health and well-being in our societies.”

The companies said that Avansya has commercial volumes available and is already supplying EverSweet to various customers with further consumer products launch, scheduled in the coming months across multiple market segments.

EverSweet is GRAS and FEMA GRAS approved for use in food and beverage products in the US and Mexico and additional regulatory approvals for use in other countries are underway.

Over 300 customer trials and product development projects are currently in progress.

The market for high-intensity sweeteners produced by fermentation is expected to exceed US$3 billion by 2025, as consumers continue to watch their calorie intake and strive to live a healthier lifestyle.