Analyst Insight by Simone Baroke - Contributing Analyst
Next year, a new generation of stevia sweeteners produced by fermentation instead of extraction is going to hit the market. In other words, the leaf of the stevia plant will soon be surplus to requirements. On the one hand, this is great news for the industry: it will save costs and provide a more consistent product with a superior taste profile. But it also means that stevia’s already wobbly status as the only “natural” low-calorie sweetener is about to be thrown into even greater jeopardy.
Stevia sweeteners 2.0
In February 2015, US agricultural and food products giant Cargill announced that its food ingredients arm, in collaboration with Swiss food technology company Evolva Holding SA, had successfully developed a method of producing stevia sweeteners by means of fermentation, thus foregoing the laborious process of extracting them from the leaf of the Stevia rebaudiana plant. The product is expected to be ready for launch in 2016.
Cargill is, of course, not the only ingredients player going down this route. US company Stevia First, for example, reported last year that it was working on developing microbial fermentation processes with the aim of producing steviol glycoside sweeteners.