Cargill launches ingredient it claims could herald a breakthrough in the stevia segment at SSW

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

 Cargill said it would be exploring high-concentration applications of stevia such as syrups for soda fountain drinks.   ©GettyImages / Nutthaseth Vanchaichana
Cargill said it would be exploring high-concentration applications of stevia such as syrups for soda fountain drinks. ©GettyImages / Nutthaseth Vanchaichana

Related tags Stevia Cargill Supplyside west

Cargill is launching ClearFlo, a botanical extract ingredient, which it claims delivers a taste-enhancing breakthrough in the stevia space.

ClearFlo - introduced at the SupplySide West trade show in Las Vegas last week - will be used in combination with Cargill's fermentation-derived EverSweet steviol glycosides, and will be ready for commercialization at the beginning of next year, Andrew Ohmes, global stevia business leader for Cargill, told FoodNavigator-USA.

"This gets really close to overall sugar sweetness profile. If you look at what stevia can and can’t do, one thing it couldn’t do is make a concentrate, because the solubility wasn’t high enough,”​ said Ohmes. 

“If you want to make a highly-concentrated solution (e.g. soda fountain beverage or a coffee syrup) it was really difficult to do because your max solubility was maybe 2,000 ppm or less using just stevia alone.”

In combination with Eversweet, ClearFlo can be used to create a solution of up to 30% stevia (150x increase) enabling high concentration formulations.

“That is a huge number and a big change and something that we didn’t ever think was going to be possible,”​ said Ohmes.

“It’s certainly more capability than is necessary, m​ost people don’t need that much so we’re targeting around 5% to 15% solutions of Reb D and Reb M.”

Asked what type of botanical extract was used in ClearFlo, Ohmes said the company would release that information next year but did share that it was GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) and that Cargill is currently pursuing FEMA (Flavor Extract Manufacturers Association) GRAS for its use as a flavor enhancer.

Ohmes added that Cargill will initially focus on incorporating the Eversweet, ClearFlo combination ingredient for beverages such as soft drink concentrates and energy drinks, but is also eyeing how the flavor enhancer can be used in baked goods and confectionery products.

Eversweet plus ClearFlo gets even closer to replicating 'overall sugar sweetness profile'

Cargill has made significant strides in improving the overall taste profile of high-intensity sweeteners. The global ingredients company launched ViaTech in 2014, which according to Ohmes helped push the market towards better-tasting stevia formulation achieving 70% sugar reduction.

Last year, Cargill launched Eversweet​ high-intensity sweetener made from fermented steviol glycosides (Reb D and Reb M, which the company said delivers a mouthfeel and taste most similar to sugar and is ideal for zero calorie formulations.

“We always tell people if you haven’t tried stevia in the last year, you should really come back and try it again because it’s completely different; it’s evolving so fast,”​ said Ohmes.

However, even with the breakthrough of Eversweet, Cargill believed it could up the ante even more on replicating the sugar taste experience.

“Eversweet already has a nice upfront sweetness and roundness overall, but if you can help shorten that up just a little bit, then you’re much closer to sugar… this [Eversweet + ClearFlo] gets really close to overall sugar sweetness profile,”​ noted Ohmes.

"If you think about what you can do next with this. There’s never been a liquid ingredient stevia,"​ said Ohmes. "Now you have a liquid where you can meter it in, in a very controlled way, because it’s a high potency sweetener... so that’s really the next stage in this evolution."

Eversweet formulations on the rise

While there are many food and beverage products already using Eversweet in formulations since becoming commercially available last year, Ohmes shared that the market should expect another wave of products sweetened with Eversweet.

“A typical formulation takes 12 to 18 months for most of our customers, so you’ll start to see some of those products come onto the market in the next few months,”​ said Ohmes.

In November 2018, Cargill partnered with Royal DSM​ to form Avansya, a joint venture that combined both companies' technologies for producing steviol glycoside products made through fermentation, including EverSweet. Further supporting bringing Eversweet to the market, Cargill announced the opening of its US-based facility dedicated to producing Eversweet in Blair, Nebraska.

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