Steviana Bioscience aims to make a splash at IFT with next generation stevia sweeteners

Picture: istockphoto/bdspn

A new player in the stevia market - Steviana Bioscience - is looking to carve a niche in the market for next generation stevia sweeteners, which utilize some of the minor glycosides in the stevia leaf, notably Reb D.

The company - which will be exhibiting at the IFT show for the first time later this month - claims it has the edge over rivals when it comes to supplying commercial quantities of Reb D, coupled with its new Reb AD 95 product, which combines Reb D and Reb A.

It’s announcement came as industry leader PureCircle announced that it was launching a new brand of stevia extracts (dubbed StarLeaf) from proprietary stevia plant varieties bred to contain high quantities of better-tasting glycosides including Reb D+M.

Founded in 2016 by Dr. Jian Liu, who has a background in developing plant extraction and purification processes for the pharmaceutical industry, Steviana Bioscience has developed novel extraction, purification and crystallization processes to produce cleaner-tasting products, said Scott Chaplin, principal at SCMC Consulting, who has been working with the company on a consultancy basis.

Two facilities: One for leaf extraction, one for processing ‘mother liquor’

The company, which has just opened a new facility in Suzhou, China (near Shanghai) also plans to open a second facility in Jinzhou (east of Beijing), revealed Chaplin, who said that the backing for the business had come primarily “from a private Chinese investor that owns more than 50% of the company.”

 “The Suzhou facility right now processes what we call mother liquor, which Steviana buys from stevia companies, who have extracted Reb A out of it,” he told FoodNavigator-USA. 

“Steviana buys what remains because it contains a lot of Reb C and Reb D in it, and then it further processes it and extract Reb C, D and some A.

“In the new Jinzhou facility it’ll do leaf extraction from new stevia varieties that have high concentrations of Reb C and Reb D and it’ll extract them and pull off the C and D and then further process them at Suzhou.

Steviana is working with growers producing stevia plants that naturally contain higher percentages of the minor glycosides such as Reb D,” he added.

‘No chemical or enzymatic conversion or modification is involved’

As for the extraction and purification process, he said: “Steviana is producing straight extracts from the plants, so no chemical or enzymatic conversion or modification is involved, whereas with some of the other players developing Reb D and Reb M, they are using enzymatic modification in some of their ingredients. Others are using fermentation that does not involve stevia leaves at all.

“Steviana uses porous column chromatography isolation and separation and then they use a novel separation and crystallization process that make the extracts more soluble in water. It doesn't use any methanol in the extraction, just water and ethanol, so it’s a very clean process. It’s unique in the industry.”

Unique proposition

He added: “Steviana has commercial quantities of straight Reb D 95 available now. Other companies say they can supply it [in commercial quantities], but place an order and you get put on a wait list. Steviana is also supplying Reb C, which is popular as a flavor modulator.

Dr Liu can also produce a combination of Reb A and Reb D called Reb AD 95 that is priced competitively to a Reb A 95 or Reb A 97, but tastes a lot better, so that’s attracting a lot of commercial interest.”

Patent protection

Asked about patent protection, Chaplin said: “We’ve filed a couple of patents in China and we’re got two provisional patents in the US and one for the Reb AD blend co-process, which was filed in California a couple of months ago. We have patents on the process, the isolation and purification part and the crystallization part.”

Steviana will be exhibiting at the IFT show in Las Vegas (June 25-28) in the new company pavilion (Booth V320 and 322).

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