The Malaysian firm PureCircle develops, produces and markets high-purity Reb A, a natural, zero-calorie sweetener, while Firmenich is a privately-owned fragrance and flavor company based in Switzerland.
The deal is expected to accelerate the commercialization of Reb A in the global food and beverage industry as PureCircle said that with Firmenich, it can now capitalize on the ingredient’s properties as a flavor enhancer.
The announcement follows the opening up of the US market last month when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued no objection letters for rebiana, (Reb A) at 95 percent purity or above, to have GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status for use in food and drink.
Magomet Malsagov, PureCircle chief executive, told FoodNavigator-USA.com: “There is a tremendous amount of activity around Reb A and interest particularly from the US.
“The collaboration will allow Reb A also to penetrate flavor enhancement. We can find an application use for Reb A over and above a sweetener.”
Malsagov said that some companies, typically larger ones such as PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, which both use PureCircle’s Reb A, do not require outside help in formulation because they have the expertise in-house.
But he added: “There are second tier and third tier brands which would look to have formulation help.”
Malsagov said Reb A will not just sweeten, it will also increase a flavor, such as orange for example.
Although this would be an advantage for an orange juice, he added it is not good if a company is using Reb A with a flavor they don’t want to be enhanced.
Malsagov said: “We will develop a formula to make sure the sweetness is there but the flavor is to the extent desired by the customer in the end product.”
This formula solution will then be sold to customers.
Firmenich, which had an annual turnover of 2.8bn Swiss Francs at end June 2008, said it has developed innovative flavor systems for Reb A, which will be rolled out across food and beverage applications.
Patrick Firmenich, CEO of Firmenich, said: “Reducing sugar in food and beverage products, while maintaining consumer preference, is one of the biggest challenges in our business today.
By combining PureCircle’s know-how in Reb A with Firmenich’s expertise in sweetness enhancement and flavor masking, I believe that we can fulfill consumer desires for great tasting, low sugar, low calorie foods and beverages.”
Stevia extracts reportedly have a licorice or bitter aftertaste but Malsagov said this does not apply to high purity Reb A which has “no flavor”.
PepsiCo and Coca-Cola have already announced launches of products sweetened with rebiana in the US following the green light from the FDA.