US – Sweetener manufacturer SweeGen has launched its latest natural sweetener, Bestevia Reb I, an improved high purity product from the stevia leaf.

SweeGen said that the sweetener, produced from the leaf using a bioconversion technology developed by Conagen, has “very little bitterness due to the high purity”.

The company says this new addition to its sweetener portfolio works well in a variety of applications, including dairy, beverages, nutrition bars, confectionery and savory products.

According to SweeGen, the new ingredient will be particularly appealing to customers as its formula allows for manufacturers to clean up their labels and use the term “natural flavoring” rather than “sweetener.”

Natural sweeteners are continuing to gain popularity among consumers who are seeking less sugar.

A 2019 FMCG Gurus Global Health and Wellness Report noted that while there are plenty of options for alternative sweeteners, 66% of consumers prefer to see natural sweeteners rather than artificial options on labels.

Among natural sweeteners, Stevia has a leg up given its evidence-based health benefits, including lowering blood pressure and helping to fight diabetes.

However, there are also some drawbacks to the plant-based sweetener, namely its bitter aftertaste and the difficulty of extracting certain isolates that are known for providing cleaner flavor.

SweeGen, which first began making its stevia sweeteners available commercially in 2017, however seems to have figured a way of extracting the isolates with a cleaner flavor.

SweeGen Global Flavor Application Technology Chief, Shari Mahon says the Reb I imparts a unique sweetness profile that can be blended with others to mimic sweeteners currently in products.

She further adds that, The overall profile of the new ingredient has “very little bitterness due to the high purity”.

Reb I can be used to help bring about various levels of sugar reduction in products.

 Mahon specified that while the ingredient alone can be used to reduce sugar by 30% to 40%, it is better blended with other steviol glycosides to create the best tasting products that can reach zero-sugar-added levels.

These attributes are a welcome addition for manufacturers who are looking to use stevia as a natural alternative, but have struggled with the plant’s distinct aftertaste in formulations.

SweeGen also has a Reb M stevia option, which lacks the bitterness of the more common Reb A. However, this steviol glycoside is difficult to isolate.

SweeGen is also currently in a legal battle over the way it processes Reb M, which PureCircle, another major competitor in the sweetener space, said infringes on its patent.

Having a new steviol glycoside in its portfolio that can offer clean taste and is not subject to questions of patent infringement offers SweeGen the opportunity to market this new sweetener without worry that the formulation will have to be changed at a future date.

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