The International Stevia Council (ISC) is proud to announce that Codex Alimentarius (Codex), the international food standard safety authority, has recently adopted the Framework for Steviol Glycosides encompassing 4 different technologies for the production of steviol glycosides.
The Framework and these production technologies will enable greater access to the full range of stevia ingredients to a significant portion of the world and will continue to answer consumer demand for healthier products.
The 4 steviol glycoside production technologies approved by Codex now include stevia leaf extract, steviol glycosides from bioconversion, steviol glycosides from fermentation and glycosylated steviol glycosides.
Over the last 5 years, there have been many great advancements in the stevia ingredient space leading to the development of the next generation steviol glycosides with reduced bitterness and licorice aftertaste and an increased clean taste similar to the taste of sugar.
New technologies have revolutionised the stevia industry by enabling the sustainable production of those steviol glycosides – such as Reb M and Reb D – which have a better sensory profile and a cleaner taste but are found in smaller amounts in the stevia leaf. These ingredients have proven to be safe alternatives to sugar and other sweeteners for all populations.
“ISC was instrumental in getting this new framework approved, which benefits the entire stevia industry,” said Maria Teresa Scardigli, ISC executive director.
“The Framework approach ensures that business operators can put steviol glycosides produced through their various technologies on the market without submitting new dossiers, provided they fulfill the defined criteria and specifications per technology,” said Scardigli. “This is based on the authorities’ review of the production technology, ensuring the highest level of safety, purity and quality is achieved for the final steviol glycoside ingredient put on the market.”
It broadens the options on the use of stevia and gives the flexibility of using stevia from different production technologies depending on formulations.
Sweegen to benefit from new framework with all its stevia (Rebs) sweeteners approved by Codex
One of the world’s leading stevia sweetener solutions supplier, US-based Sweegen is looking forward to better serving the F&B industry with their sugar reduction goals after the adoption of this new framework which encompasses 4 stevia technologies, including Sweegen’s bioconversion.
Luca Giannone, Senior Vice President of Sales at Sweegen said, “The new Codex framework is timely as the benefits of steviol glycosides, the sweet component in the stevia leaf, fit into the broader health and wellness narrative, which is something consumers want to see more of, and global food and beverage manufacturers want greater access to.”
The significance of the adoption is that there is now a more streamlined approach to regional adoption of new production technologies. This will provide greater access to less common and better-tasting steviol glycosides at scale and a more sustainable supply of the sugar-like tasting ingredients.
Sweegen’s support for adopting the “Framework for Stevia Technology” started 4 years ago as a member of ISC. Adopting the framework was a stevia industry effort and collaboration internationally where Sweegen represented bioconversion technology.
Giannone added, “With this framework, most countries in the world will gradually adopt this standard, and our global stevia footprint can expand more rapidly into countries where we are seeking approval for offering our pure, clean, and great-tasting Signature Bestevia ingredients produced by bioconversion.”
Modern technology advancements, such as bioconversion, produce clean new generation sweetener molecules such as Rebaudiosides M, D, and E, originally found in small quantities in the stevia leaf. Unlike first-generation ingredients like Rebaudioside A, these rebaudiosides impart a clean sugar-like taste with a better sensory profile and are highly sought-after by food and beverage manufacturers in countries where they have regulatory approvals.
Sweegen utilises proprietary bioconversion technology which starts with the stevia leaf, and with the support of enzymes, produce a final product that is a single purified steviol glycoside (not a mixture) that naturally occurs in the stevia leaf.
Under the new framework, all of Sweegen’s rebaudiosides (for example Rebs D, E, M etc) are approved by Codex. Last year, Sweegen earned regulatory approval for its Signature Bestevia Reb M in Europe, which enables greater flexibility in satisfying regional preferences for sweetness and great taste.
Snapshot of Global Stevia Market
There is growing consumer demand for stevia and Innova data showed that global product launches with stevia have increased by 21.9% CAGR over the past 10 years (2011-2021). In the same period, the majority of product launches have taken place in North America, Asia and Western Europe.
New product launches with stevia in regions such as Eastern Europe, Australasia, Africa and the Middle East have also increased by more than 35% in the same period. The adoption by Codex will open more markets for the use of stevia.
Beverage continues to be the leading category for new product launches with stevia, while sports nutrition, supplements, dairy, snacks and confectionery are also seeing significant growth. New emerging categories include desserts, ice cream, bakery products and cereals.
According to Nielsen data, US retail sales of products containing stevia cut across all food categories represent US$3.9 billion out of the total food and beverage retail sales. In the past 2 years, categories such as diet and performance nutrition had stronger growth rates in the US and are growing faster than similar products using other sweeteners, likely as a result of the pandemic.
Data from Innova showed that Western Europe has also experienced a significant growth of products launched with stevia from 2011-2021 with a 10-year CAGR of 38%. Of those launches, 62.2% occurred in 5 countries namely UK, Germany, Netherlands, France and Spain.
In 2021, in Western Europe, a significant portion of the product launches were in the sports nutrition category which took the lead from soft drinks in 2018. Other leading categories include soft drinks, supplements, confectionary, hot drinks, desserts, ice cream and dairy.
This growth is in line with the growing global trend of sugar reduction, pursued by consumers as well as various governments in their health promotion campaigns.