Stevia-derived sweeteners have rapidly gained in popularity with US manufacturers since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued letters of no objection that two stevia-derived sweeteners were generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for use in foods and beverages, back in December 2008. But some early formulations were criticized for a bitter, licorice-like aftertaste.
PureCircle has launched the new sweetener under the brand name Alpha, and says this latest addition to its range of stevia-derived sweeteners allows for more rounded sweetness and less bitterness at high sugar replacement levels. Specifically, it is intended for products targeting a 50-100% reduction in calories, the company said.
“Following extensive sensory and application development work in PureCircle's Global Application Center, in Oakbrook, Illinois, marked improvements were identified versus existing stevia sweeteners on the market,” PureCircle said.
It contains a proprietary blend of steviol glycosides – the sweet components of the stevia leaf – and the company said it has filed for extensive global patent protection for the ingredient.
PureCircle’s vice president of global marketing Jason Hecker told FoodNavigator-USA that while Alpha will be offered as a leading ingredient option alongside Reb A and SG95, the company’s different stevia sweeteners can be useful for different applications.
He said: “Our customers are looking to match the best solution to each of their reformulations and new product launches. While Alpha is ideal for 50-100% reduction in calories, we have other ingredients that deliver excellent taste at lower calorie reduction targets and at different price points. By bringing customers a portfolio of stevia solutions we can best match the sweetener to the application.”
PureCircle said it has identified a number of applications for the ingredient, including teas, juices, dairy products, flavored waters and carbonated soft drinks. It comes as a powder or can be granulated, and would be labeled as stevia leaf extract on ingredient lists in the United States.
The launch of Alpha has been planned to coincide with manufacturers’ preparations in advance of stevia approval in Europe, which is expected in the coming months.
The sweetener meets JECFA specifications, which the FDA follows for stevia, the company said.