In an exclusive interview with FoodNavigator, Hecker said the company was working on proprietary varieties of stevia and solutions that would enable manufacturers to slash calorie content even further than previous blends.
“With stevia 3.0 we are going to start to see more products launching in the 40% and 50% reduction camp. For some customers it’s about positioning, but for others it’s about applications. We found we needed to go beyond Rebaudioside A [the least bitter of all stevia extracts].
“Product matrices can be complex and by working with a combination of ingredients we are able to deliver a much better taste profile. We are exploring what solutions work best in what products. In some it will be a bi-blend and in some it will be a tri-blend.”
The company has launched PureCircle University, which enables the firm to work jointly with customers and share research facilities.
Stevia development in Europe
Stevia-based product development in Europe is on track, despite a slow start, according to US-based stevia champion PureCircle.
Hecker said he was happy with the use of stevia in Europe at the moment.
Citing Datamonitor figures, which have been echoed by Mintel, Hecker said more than 200 new products containing stevia had been launched in the year to July 26. This represented about half of the total global launches. “Globally launches are well in excess of our expectations for 2012 as a whole,” he said. “Europe has played an important role. We have seen some big launches in ketchup from Unilever and Danone’s DanVia yoghurt in Austria.”
Stevia use had previously been permitted by France before its Europe-wide approval for use by the European Food Safety Authority in November last year. “A lot of people look to France to understand different areas of Europe and we will continue to see a lot of products tested in that market,” said Hecker. “But Germany, Spain and the UK are starting to catch up.”