While stevia has attracted more publicity, monk fruit has just as much potential in the natural sweeteners market, argues Tate & Lyle.
Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA at the Supply Side West trade show about Tate & Lyle's 'Purefruit' monk fruit sweetener, marketing communications manager Amy Lauer said: "We've been looking at natural sweeteners for about 10 years.
"We found that monk fruit extract, in terms of ability to scale up, cost, ease of use and formulation and great taste, was one of the best products out there."
And while Purefruit is more expensive than stevia on a weight-for-weight basis, it is approaching parity on a cost-in-use basis for many applications, she added.
It's actually very cost-effective
For example, in a neutral to high pH dairy product, you can get a lot of sweetness using only a very small amount, she said.
"It's actually very cost effective. When you look at for instance some of the sweetness enablers used with Reb-A [the best-known steviol glycoside] such as erythritol, or the flavor-masking technologies [that are used to mask bitter off notes associated with some stevia products], they add to the cost of formulation, and you don't need those for monk fruit applications."
Tate & Lyle, which has exclusive global marketing and distribution rights for Purefruit (partner BioVittoria handles the monk fruit supply chain), has well over 1,000 samples out in the marketplace, said Lauer.
She added: "Consumers intuitively understand that sweetness that comes from fruit is natural and they expect it to taste good. We're seeing Purefruit used in teas, waters, juice drinks, dairy products, ice creams and novelties, bars and cereals as well."