The two companies have been working together since March 2013 on fermentation technologies to produce steviol glycosides, the compounds that give stevia leaves their sweet taste. They filed a patent for the technology in February 2013, and claimed that it could allow large-scale production of better tasting, lower cost steviol glycosides, such as rebaudioside D and rebaudioside M, that are not currently commercially viable because of their low concentration in the stevia leaf.
The project has been consistently ahead of schedule, with a pilot programme up and running by late 2013, although it was initially forecast for 2014.
“We expect that stevia will be launched in 2016,” Evolva said in its latest financial and project update on Monday.
The company also said it would make a decision in the first half of this year about whether to exercise its right to a 45% stake in the final business. If it decides not to take this option, it instead would receive royalties on global sales of the steviol glycosides, in the region of mid-single to low-double digit percentages.
Evolva has used yeast-based fermentation to produce other ingredients, including vanillin, and its recent acquisition of San Diego-based Allylix brought fermentation-derived nootkatone (an aroma compound found in grapefruit also used as a natural insect repellent) and the orange flavour and fragrance valencene into its portfolio.