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New stevia sweetener BESTEVIA® Reb M may disrupt the sugar industry

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The global sweetener industry has reached a crossroads. Ever-rising demand and variable supply of sugar are causing price volatility at a time when the case against artificial sweeteners is growing. A solution is needed, a sustainable and healthier sweetener. BESTEVIA®​ Reb M may be that sweetener.

Sugar's problems, aside from health concerns, stem from its status as an increasingly-consumed farmed product. Rising consumption is a predictable consequence of the urbanization and growing middle class of emerging economies such as China and India. This trend is yet to fully play out. If supply outstrips demand, the sugar price will surge.

In years gone by, manufacturers may have responded to price volatility and consumer demand for low-calorie products by switching to artificial sweeteners. However, new scientific studies have intensified doubts about the benefits of artificial sweeteners and concerns about their unintended negative side effects. The era of artificial sweeteners may be ending.

Health-conscious consumers are aware of this growing body of evidence and are rapidly changing their buying habits. The upshot is food and beverage companies cannot rely on artificial sweeteners to mitigate the problems of sugar. The best alternative may be a stevia leaf sweet compound known as Reb M.

Turning Reb M into a viable sweetener

Until recently, these benefits were out of reach. Reb M is found in very low concentrations in stevia leaves, making standard plant extraction too expensive and limiting maximum global output. Fortunately for the food manufacturers and consumers, novel production methods for steviol glycosides were developed in response to the growing need for better and healthier options which resulted in sweeteners that eliminate many of the shortcomings of sugar and artificial sweeteners.

Reb M, also known as rebaudioside M, is one of many steviol glycosides found in the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana​ plant. BESTEVIA®​ Reb M delivers what consumers desire, sugar-like sweetness and zero calories without the health concerns associated with artificial sweeteners. To the food and beverage manufacturer, this next-generation stevia sweetener offers feasible pricing, sustained availability and consistent quality.

SweeGen, Inc, located in California, met the industry's challenge for nature-based sugar reduction at the beginning of 2017 when it announced the commercialization of its Non-GMO BESTEVIA®​ Reb M. This new sweetener is approved for sale in the US and Canada and is expected to receive more regulatory approvals later this year and in 2018. SweeGen's proprietary production process for BESTEVIA®​ Reb M, under exclusive license from Conagen, Inc, starts with the stevia leaf, an approach that differentiates it from some other players in the field. The use of this proprietary enzymatic process increases BESTEVIA®​ Reb M's production prior to isolation and purification of the sweet molecules, which are substantially the same as those found in nature. BESTEVIA®​ Reb M was recently certified Non-GMO by the Non-GMO Project Verified. For health-conscious consumers, the Non-GMO certificate provides SweeGen with one of the most important differentiation points in the Reb M market today.

As of this moment BESTEVIA®​ Reb M is already used in the market by big brand names in beverage, yogurt and ice cream, with more consumer products currently in development. Ingredion, Inc is SweeGen's exclusive distribution partner, excluding SweeGen's House Accounts and the People's Republic of China.

The advantages of Reb M over other stevia sweeteners

BESTEVIA®​ Reb M, by contrast to existing stevia sweeteners, offers a sweet taste close to that of sugar and is free of the aftertaste of Reb-A, which has been used by the food and beverage industry for many years. The Reb M molecule is easy to work with and is 200-300 times sweeter than sugar. Formulators can reduce the sugar content of their products without sacrificing taste.

If manufacturers seize the opportunity presented by this sustainable sweetener with feasible pricing, it is consumers who will benefit most by finally having access to a safe, non-caloric sweetener with a sugar-like taste. A better option indeed!

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