Now it is just a question of 'when' and not 'if'

GLG a step closer to realizing a commercially viable Reb M extract from stevia leaf

By Elaine Watson contact

- Last updated on GMT

GLG breeds new stevia leaf with 10 times more Reb M

Related tags: Stevia

Vancouver-based GLG Life Tech has developed a new variety of stevia containing unusually high levels of sought-after steviol glycoside Reb M, a breakthrough it claims is “a very important step to realizing a commercially viable Reb M extract from stevia leaf”.

While it is possible to produce minor glycosides such as Reb D+M via microbial fermentation, many food and beverage formulators want an ingredient that comes directly from the stevia leaf, claimed GLG, which has also developed stevia plants that contain high levels of Reb D and Reb C.

These sought-after glycosides - which lack the bitterness of best-known steviol glycoside Reb A - typically occur in such low concentrations in the leaf, however, that extracting and purifying them on a commercial scale are virtually prohibitive.

However, GLG’s plant breeding program is changing this equation, claimed CEO and chairman Dr Luke Zhang.

Bringing a naturally-sourced Reb M extract to the market on a commercial scale requires a dramatic increase in the presence of Reb M glycosides in the leaf,​ [and] a dramatic increase in Reb M is just what GLG has achieved.”

Now it is just a question of 'when' and not 'if'

GLG’s stevia seedlings - developed via patented non-GMO breeding techniques - contain Reb M concentrations of more than 1% of dry leaf weight ​compared with the average of less than 0.1%, and 8% total steviol glycosides, president and CFO Brian Meadows told FoodNavigator-USA.

But how close does this take GLG to a commercially viable level?

According to Meadows: "8% of the TSG is not sufficient for a commercially viable seedling right now, however it marks a very substantial starting point to develop a commercially viable Reb M seedling.

"When we can double the Reb M glycosides then we could have a commercial intermediate Reb M variety. Our goal is achieve a greater than 50% of the glycosides to be Reb M as we have achieved with Reb C for the best outcome.  

"GLG is getting much faster and more effective in applying its patented Non-GMO hybridization process to develop its next generation seedlings and now it is just a question of 'when' and not 'if'."

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