Cargill's Viatech platform deconstructs stevia leaf to identify better blends

By Hank Schultz contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Stevia

Cargill is “all in on stevia,” according to Scott Fabro, global business development director.  At the forefront of this commitment is the company’s Viatech stevia technology, which analyzes the various stevia components separately and reassembles them in higher performing blends.

Viatech stands for a swath of new technological approaches to using the non nutritive sweetener.  It’s well known that the leaf, while offering exciting possibilities for calorie reduction, has continued to be plagued with drawbacks that have thus far prevented it from completely replacing sugar or other nutritive sweeteners in most applications.  The chief complaints are “linger,” or stevia’s delayed onset of sweetness on the tongue, and bitterness, which is sometimes characterized as a licorice taste off note.

Fabro said Cargill has dealt with this problem by deconstructing the stevia leaf and looking at each of the steviol glycosides individually.

“We identified the unique characteristics of each glycoside for sweetness, bitterness and linger,” ​Fabro told NutraIngredients-USA at the Expo West trade show in Anaheim, CA.  After going through that process, the company could identify which blends at which ratios perform best in given applications.

Among the glycosides investigated were Rebaudoside D and Rebaudoside M.  These have interesting properties that, when used in the right ratios with other leaf constituents, will pave the way for complete sugar replacement, Fabro said.  The problem with them is that there isn’t enough of these compounds in the base leaf.  While Viatech at the moment consists only of direct-from-the-leaf components, that won’t be the case in the future.

“In the future we see fermentation as a path to get to those glycosides that are so tiny in the leaf,” ​Fabro said. “Reb M or Reb D are not there to displace Reb A but rather to open a new space in beverages where it really opens up that 70% to 100% calorie reduction.”

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