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Partnership to speed stevia-sweetened product development

By Caroline Scott-Thomas , 13-Feb-2009
Last updated on 13-Feb-2009 at 17:34 GMT

A new partnership between a stevia supplier and a flavors and ingredients firm will speed the process of bringing low-calorie stevia-sweetened products to market, the companies claim.

Wild Flavors has partnered with Sunwin International Neutraceuticals – which currently produces a stevia-derived tabletop sweetener as well as stevia extracts for the neutraceutical industry – to produce natural sweetening blends for food and beverages.

Wild Flavors said that while other companies are ensuring they have access to a stevia supplier, it is taking a “bigger and bolder step” by investing $3m in the partnership and working together with Sunwin International to produce proprietary sweetener blends for the food and beverage industry.

The advent of stevia

The floodgates were opened to the stevia-derived sweetener market in December, when the FDA issued its first letters of non-objection for Rebaudioside A, agreeing that the sweetener is generally recognized as safe (GRAS). Two companies – Merisant and Cargill – received FDA GRAS notice for their Rebaudioside-A ingredients, the zero-calorie, high intensity sweetener derived from the stevia leaf, also known as Reb-A or rebiana.

Jeff Reynolds, president of Sunwin International’s US subsidiary told FoodNavigator-USA.com that its stevia-derived sweetener is a blend of 40 to 95 percent pure Reb-A and “all-natural flavors.”

“There are very pure stevia extracts but they just have different levels of Reb-A,” he said. “We have an outside organization developing our GRAS dossiers for our stevia extracts. At their completion, I am sure we will have self affirmed GRAS, and then we will make a business decision at that time whether we want to take that to the FDA.”

Customer demand

Wild Flavors has said it expects that the partnership will allow it to incorporate stevia-derived sweeteners in its food and flavor applications at the development stage, in order to bring its customers products to market faster than if it were sourcing the sweetener elsewhere.

Sunwin, meanwhile, believes that the partnership will help it to branch out and attract new customers in the food and beverage industry.

Wild Flavors’ chief operating officer Kevin Gavin said: “Our customers have consistently recognized the value of utilizing high quality natural ingredients in the development of food and beverage products and have expressed great interest in stevia-based sweetening solutions.”

Synergy

The companies expect that Sunwin International’s technical production knowledge will combine well with Wild Flavors’ experience in product development and quality management.

Reynolds said: “Sunwin International is a worldwide leader in the production of stevia, and Wild Flavors is a worldwide leader in the supply and development of natural and health-enhancing ingredients, flavors, colors, and innovative product concepts to the food and beverage industry.

“Together, we have the expertise necessary to work with companies to create stevia-sweetened products that we believe consumers will love.”

Sunwin International already produces its own brand of stevia-blend tabletop sweetener, OnlySweet, which is available in grocery stores.

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