KANSAS CITY — Partnerships, involving both ingredients in formulations and companies in business agreements, are affecting the natural sweetener market. The efforts involve such high-intensity sweeteners as stevia and monk fruit and such bulking agents as inulin and erythritol.
Data from Innova Market Insights, Duiven, The Netherlands, reveal demand for monk fruit, said David Thorrold, general manager of sales and marketing and director of Monk Fruit Corp., Guilin, China. Nearly 400 new food and beverage product launches worldwide contained monk fruit in the 12 months ended June 30, he said.
|David Thorrold, general manager of sales and marketing and director of Monk Fruit Corp.|
“We are seeing growing demand for monk fruit that is being driven by clean label projects and companies being less prepared to accept the taste compromises that come with other natural sweeteners,” Mr. Thorrold said.
Data from Innova Market Insights show 50% of the products in the United States that contain monk fruit also contain stevia. Outside the United States, about 25% of the products that contain monk fruit also contain stevia. Outside the United States, stevia generally is labeled as a food additive sweetener, which may not fit well with clean label projects, he said.
“Purified monk fruit extracts (where the mogroside V content is typically at least 30%) are regulated as food additives (sweeteners) outside the U.S., just like stevia,” Mr. Thorrold said. “However, our monk fruit juice concentrate product is a simple fruit juice that complies with the Codex fruit juice standard (the mogroside V content of our monk fruit juice concentrate is 3.5%). As a result it is regulated as a food or food ingredient, not a food additive.
“What this means is that our monk fruit juice concentrate is uniquely placed as a food ingredient that allows formulators to reduce sugar (because of the naturally very sweet properties of the monk fruit juice) without having to use a food additive sweetener.”
Monk Fruit Corp. doubled its supply of monk fruit for the 2015 harvest.
“We invested in a significant expansion of our processing capacity in 2015, and we have added further additional processing capacity this year to meet increased demand,” Mr. Thorrold said. “We have also continued to innovate with new growing methods and technology for our fresh fruit supply chain to ensure that our growers continue to produce the best quality fruit with the highest yield in the industry.”
Tate & Lyle, P.L.C., London, has had a working agreement with Monk Fruit Corp. since 2011. Tate & Lyle featured spicy low-fat chocolate milk during the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food exposition in Chicago in July. The milk contained Purefruit monk fruit extract, which is zero calories and 200 times as sweet as sugar, for natural sugar replacement as well as Tasteva stevia sweetener, which is also zero calories and 200 to 300 times as sweet as sugar, for sugar replacement without bitterness. Dolcia Prima allulose and Krystar crystalline fructose assisted in sugar reduction and texture.
Archer Daniels Midland Co., Chicago, invested in natural sweeteners through a partnership announced in June. ADM became the exclusive global marketer and distributor of low-calorie sweeteners that GLG Life Tech Corp., Richmond, B.C., makes from stevia and monk fruit.
“This partnership — combining GLG’s capabilities and reputation as one of the largest, most trusted manufacturers of low-calorie sweeteners with ADM’s global distribution capabilities and exiting ingredient portfolio — offers tremendous opportunities for both companies and their customers,” said Brian Meadows, president and chief financial officer of GLG Life Tech.
Known for its stevia-based sweeteners, Wisdom Natural Brands, Gilbert, Ariz., is stepping up its focus on sweetener formulations, including those with monk fruit. Sai Prakash Chaturvedula, Ph.D., chief scientific officer for the company, and his associate, Rao Svereni, Ph.D., have decades of experience with stevia, monk fruit and other conventional and organic sweeteners.
“Rather than have only discrete sweetener ingredients, which are the same for all manufacturers and must combine with all food and beverage preparations in the same way, we develop specific compositions of sweeteners to meet a particular manufacturing customer’s goals, ingredients, and process with a sustained, excellent taste profile,” Dr. Chaturvedula said. “In so doing, each sweetener formulation can become specific to that manufacturer, and no other company will have the exact sweetness formula as another.”
Monk fruit combines well with other sweeteners, particularly stevia, said Carol May, president of Wisdom Natural Brands.
|Carol May, president of Wisdom Natural Brands|
“It’s not been well-utilized in the manufacturing community and certainly not in the C.P.G. community,” she said of monk fruit. “It’s not been appropriately combined and made into effective consumer products. So it’s not been that successful, but when utilized by a knowledgeable hand into a variety of manufactured products, it can be quite successful.”
Wisdom Natural Brands does not work with any artificial ingredients, including artificial high-intensity sweeteners, she said.
For a stevia endeavor, PureCircle, Inc. will invest $100 million in its agronomy program. Expansion will happen in 15 growing regions. The company will identify optimal growing practices and support farmers through training and planting materials.
Stevia, monk fruit and other high-intensity sweeteners may need to partner with bulking agents when replacing sugar in some applications, including baked foods.
Steviva Ingredients, Portland, Ore., recently launched Erysweet+ Ultra blend, a super-fine mesh powder consisting of SteviaSweet 95-60 with Erysweet non-bioengineered/non-G.M.O. erythritol. The ingredient is twice as sweet as sugar but only 0.2 calories per gram, compared to sugar at 4 calories per gram.
A replacement for super-fine powdered sugar, Erysweet+ Ultra offers a clean flavor and is free from bitter notes and aftertaste, according to Steviva Ingredients. The sweetener’s heat tolerance is past 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Erysweet+ Ultra works in tempering applications for chocolate, coatings, fillings, frostings, glazes, fondants and icings.
Wisdom Natural Brands started working with inulin, another bulking agent, in 1995.
“We also recommend tofu and apple sauce as ways to meet that need for a bulking agent,” Ms. May said.
Cargill, Minneapolis, at the I.F.T. event sampled a sugar cookie with a 25% reduction in sugar, or 9 grams versus 12 grams in the control cookie. ViaTech stevia and inulin in the form of chicory root fiber were used to reduce sugar.
To maintain a natural positioning for a product, stevia extracts may be paired with chicory root or erythritol, which is a polyol that acts as a bulking agent, said Andy Ohmes, global product line manager for Cargill’s high-intensity sweetener business.
Chicory root fiber helps the appearance of a cookie, such as in how it spreads, he said. While sugar is involved in the browning of cookies, chicory root will help the cookie keep a brown appearance when sugar is removed.
Erythritol may provide a nice rounding effect on the sweetness of a product when the goal is to reduce the sugar but use a sweetener blend that tastes as similar to sugar as possible, said Wade Schmelzer, principal scientist at Cargill.
Cargill does not offer any monk fruit sweeteners, Mr. Ohmes said. Cost may be a hurdle when working with that high-intensity sweetener, he said. Some of Cargill’s customers want to work with both stevia and monk fruit, and Cargill can help them with those projects, he said.