The new sweetener, which the company has branded Tasteva, is a proprietary blend of steviol glycosides, the sweet components of the stevia leaf. Tate & Lyle said it has been working on the stevia-derived sweetener for the past two years, and it recommends using it to reduce sugar by 50% or more, depending on the application.
The company’s research has focussed on mitigating the bitter or liquorice-like aftertaste associated with many stevia products on the market. According to its work with sensory panels, about 40% of the population is extremely sensitive to this bitterness, and another 40% is somewhat sensitive.
“Our product won’t turn off those bitter-sensitive consumers that are out there in the population, and you can use it at higher levels of sugar reduction,” said the company’s director of natural sweeteners product management Jeremy Thompson.
He told FoodNavigator: “We wanted to bring something to the market that had benefits that other products on the market don’t have.”
Thompson said that the new ingredient could be used in the development of zero calorie products, but added: “The real target for this is high levels of sugar replacement. This is where we see our customers being able to do things they haven’t been able to do with stevia before.”
The stevia market is very competitive but Tate & Lyle is counting on the taste of its product, its potential to slash sugar content and its ability to combine well with other natural sweeteners as strong points of differentiation.
“We have certainly seen some benefits of combining this product with our Purefruit monk fruit products,” he said, adding that it could also work well with a number of other sweeteners in the company’s portfolio.
“The natural space is a space where people are looking to get the optimal taste by combining sweeteners.”
In Europe, manufacturers would have the option of labelling the product by E number, or as ‘steviol glycosides’ on an ingredient list.
The Tasteva stevia sweetener will be available globally, having met JECFA and FDA GRAS standards for stevia, and is set to roll out across Latin America and Europe over the next couple of months, before being introduced in North America and Asia Pacific in 2013.