‘There is tremendous potential to grow the stevia market in Europe following these approvals’: PureCircle’s bio-converted range gets EFSA safety nod

By Oliver Morrison

- Last updated on GMT

Image: PureCircle by Ingredion
Image: PureCircle by Ingredion

Related tags Stevia Ingredion Artificial sweeteners

The supplier’s range of stevia ingredients produced through bioconversion of stevia leaf extracts will be commercially available to European food and beverage manufacturers later in 2021.

PureCircle – now operating as PureCircle by Ingredion – has received a positive safety opinion from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for the use of its Reb M, Reb D and Reb AM stevia ingredients which are produced through bioconversion of stevia leaf extracts. This opinion also recognises that there are up to 60 molecules from the stevia leaf which are safe for consumption, the company revealed.

Upon final approval from the European Commission, which is expected to be published later in the year, the range will be commercially available to European food and beverage manufacturers.

PureCircle said its proprietary technologies and expansive stevia experience have enabled it to maximize the output of each stevia leaf. This results in more sustainable, efficient stevia plants which yield more optimized quantities of stevia ingredients and reduced overall waste compared to conventional stevia leaf varieties, it claimed.  

Sue Bancroft, PureCircle EMEA’s category lead, told FoodNavigator approval of these new stevia leaf ingredients means food and beverage manufacturers now have access to more cost-effective sugar reduction solutions.

“We are delighted that following the EFSA’s positive safety opinion, food and beverage manufacturers will soon be able to access PureCircle’s stevia ingredients from bioconversion,”​ she said.

“This development creates much needed scale and availability of the best tasting stevia ingredients for the European market. The addition of our Reb AM ingredient also enables us to create ideal solubility of our sugar reduction solutions in beverage applications and syrups.”

She added the move means the company now boasts a complete portfolio of commercially available stevia leaf extract sweeteners and flavour modifiers, enabling the company to achieve full sugar reduction across food and beverage categories, address solubility challenges and cost-effectively improve the overall taste experience to achieve parity to full-sugar products. “There is tremendous potential to grow the stevia market in Europe following these approvals,”​ she observed.

The move comes as the European Union has seen an increase in activity to promote innovation around healthier alternatives, with signatories of the recent launch of a Code of Conduct setting out ambitions to double-down on reformulation efforts​​ and the Union of European Soft Drinks Associations (UNESDA) backing a commitment to reduce average added sugars in its beverages by a further 10% across Europe by 2025​​. 

PureCircle’s own global data suggest as many as nearly 1 in 2 consumers are concerned with sugar’s health impacts. More consumers also want to know where their products come from and what their ingredients are. “It’s clear that today’s consumers are seeking to limit the sugar in their diets and reduce calories, not with artificial sweeteners, but with ingredients that are naturally derived,” ​claimed Bancroft. As such, she told us PureCircle by Ingredion has invested significant time and resource in the optimisation of what the stevia plant can do and building the most robust portfolio of stevia ingredients.

“As a result, food and beverage formulators across Europe committed to formulating a complete and balanced sugar reduction solution that consumers love, have long benefitted from PureCircle’s range of plant-based, stevia leaf sweeteners and flavour modifiers, the most comprehensive and widest range available,”​ she said.

Produced from a process that mirrors the plant’s natural ingredient production process, the range provides a non-GM stevia leaf ingredient that is ‘clean tasting, has a sugar-like sweetness with none of the calories and with no ingredient separation’, she added.

“PureCircle by Ingredion helps food and beverage organisations of all sizes develop consumer-winning products using ingredients that optimise sweetness, minimise calories, enhance taste and deliver great texture.”

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