Ingredient opportunities keep bursting into the sweetener category this year for food and beverage companies seeking new ways to reduce sugar in products. The opportunities come in the forms of new blends, line extensions and company partnerships. They frequently involve stevia plant extracts and monk fruit extracts, two high-intensity sweeteners perceived as natural.
Ryan Turner, a private chef from Great Britain, experimented with different sweeteners, including stevia and monk fruit, for five years in developing Sola, said Michael Servie, president of The Sola Co., Houston.
“He was on a mission to find a sugar replacement without the cascade of negative health effects associated with sugar and artificial sweeteners, yet which offered the taste, texture and culinary potential of sugar — not an easy equation,” Mr. Servie said.
Sola contains 75% fewer calories than sugar and comes with the tag line “Taste the difference you can’t taste.”
“We believe we can achieve 100% sugar replacement in foods without any sacrifice in taste,” Mr. Servie said.
Sola is a blend of erythritol, tagatose, maltitol, monk fruit extract, xanthan gum, stevia leaf extract and natural flavors. Erythritol, a polyol, is a bulk sweetener that occurs naturally in fruit as well as such foods as mushrooms and fermentation-derived foods such as wine, soy sauce and cheese, according to the Calorie Control Council, an international association representing the low- and reduced-calorie food and beverage industry. Maltitol is made by the hydration of maltose, which is obtained from starch, according to the council, and tagatose is a low-carbohydrate functional sweetener that is naturally occurring and may be found in some dairy products.
Tate & Lyle, P.L.C., London, has innovated with allulose, a rare sugar that exists in small quantities in nature. It may be found in foods like figs, raisins, molasses and maple syrup, the company said.
Tate & Lyle in March extended its Dolcia Prima allulose line. The new Dolcia Prima crystalline allulose offers the same benefits as Dolcia Prima allulose syrup, and it opens new categories and applications such as tabletop sweeteners, dry beverage and meal replacement mixes, fat-based creams, and chocolate confectionery.
Tate & Lyle also this year entered into a partnership with Sweet Green Fields, L.L.C., Bellingham, Wash., to deliver stevia ingredients globally. Tate & Lyle will provide its customers with access to Sweet Green Fields’ line of steviol glycosides. They include steviol glycosides that are Non-GMO Project verified, organic stevia extracts, the proprietary sugar-like stevia extract Intesse and the cost-competitive Optimizer stevia series.
Cargill, Minneapolis, has combined stevia and honey in its Nectar Blend, a sweetener shown to work as a substitute for granulated sugar, corn sweeteners, honey or agave. Food manufacturers may sweeten products with less honey, which lowers product costs, said Andy Ohmes, global director, high-intensity sweeteners for Cargill.
“Our early applications work with Nectar Blend has focused on sauces, cereals, bars and baked goods,” he said. “The stevia-honey combination is especially well-suited for honey barbecue or honey-mustard sauces.”
NutraEx Food, Inc., Burnaby, B.C., now offers Sugarlike sweeteners in the forms of stevia extracts, monk fruit extracts and encapsulated sweetener systems, said Harvey Martens, director of business development. A patent-pending process improves the sweetener’s taste and creates free-flowing granulated sweeteners.
“Free flowing is an extra benefit,” Mr. Martens said. “We find that the taste improvement survives dissolving in a liquid, despite the obvious perception that the value would be removed.”
Sugarlike sweeteners have been shown to work in beverages, baked foods, confectionery items, dairy items, supplements and table-top sweeteners, he said. Some lines of Sugarlike are organic, and the company also produces some Sugarlike sweeteners that are Non-GMO Project verified.