Aiming for a lower cost way to boost flavor and mouthfeel of stevia extract, sweetener supplier Sweet Green Fields (SGF) launched Natrose I natural flavor at last month’s IFT 2014 show in New Orleans.
Stevia-derived Natrose I works as a flavor modifier, enhancing perceived sweetness and flavor intensity and contributing to improved mouthfeel in food and beverages.
Approved for use by the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association, Natrose I acts as a building block for a natural sweetener system—whether blended with stevia extract or other reduced calorie or calorie free high-intensity sweeteners, resulting in elevated sweetness when compared with full sugar controls. It is highly soluble and works particularly well with sugar and stevia extracts.
“Public perception has gravitated sweeteners that are generally considered more natural,” Mel Jackson, SGF’s vice president of science, told FoodNavigator-USA, noting that much of the growth for SGF is coming from demand for proprietary sweetener blends. “We see very strong interest in several areas, including proprietary defined blends designed to deliver specific stevia levels, as well as strong interest in organic stevia.”
Jackson oversaw the team that studied bitterness and sweetness response curves to aid in the development of the Natrose I flavor system.
“By enhancing the perception of sweetness, less stevia can be used,” he said, adding that using the ingredient will likely translate to “significant” sweetener cost savings for natural food and beverage product manufacturers.
The ingredient can be used effectively in both food and beverage applications, but is very application-specific, so manufacturers are urged to contact SGF for guidance.
The future of stevia is in proprietary blends, Mintel says
Consumer concerns about excessive sugar consumption has driven growth in the sweeteners market, with the percentage of new products containing high-intensity sweeteners rising from 3.5% of all food and drink launches in 2009 to 5.5% in 2012, according to Mintel. In 2013, products sweetened with plant-derived sweeteners alone reached 15% of the total products launched that use intense sweeteners.
Sugar’s bad press, coupled with the perceived naturalness halo of plant-derived sweeteners means the future is bright for the likes of stevia, even though it only controls 8% of the global HIS market.
“For any high-intensity sweetener, natural or otherwise, in the end it boils down to a couple major things: the cost to the manufacturer, and the taste,” Lynn Dornblaser, director of innovation and insight at Mintel, told us in an interview at the IFT show. “Many forms of stevia work in certain products because the product itself can mask the taste of stevia.”
Blends (particularly in reduced sugar formulas) are where Dornblaser says she sees the most promise for stevia. Manufacturers can typically reduce sugar up to 30% with stevia without consumers even noticing a difference in taste. “You can use sugar to mask the off taste many associate with stevia,” Dornblaser said. “So you still have sugar as a carrier, delivering that profile you want, but stevia boosts the sweetness.”