There is undoubtedly no greater pariah than sugar in today’s food and beverage world. It is tough to quit refined sugar, but given how amazingly harmful sugar can be, it’s beyond doubt worth the effort. Fortuitously, there are quite a few naturally derived sweeteners found in nature that are actually beneficial for health. They are low in fructose, low in calories, and also tastes very sweet.
There are many consumers who want to restrict their sugar intake and they are planning it by purchasing “no sugar added” products. In the recent years, solutions ranging from fully-caloric and familiar ingredients like agave nectar and honey to non-caloric solutions such as stevia have emerged on product label claims, and each with a unique mixture of obstacles and benefits for formulators. As the race to replace sugar pitch into high gear, still there is a room for experimentation in the naturally derived sweeteners market.
Stevia is a very popular low-calorie naturally derived sweeteners. This naturally derived sweeteners, sourced from a Brazilian plant, is more than hundred times sweeter than sugar and can be used in everything including juices, soft drinks and snack foods. A number of sweet compounds are found in the leaves of stevia. The main ones are rebaudioside and stevioside, and both of them are hundreds of times sweeter than sugar. As a result, stevia is very sweet but has almost no calories.
The consumer demand for naturally derived sweeteners products has reached a mainstream fervor in the recent years, and manufacturers from the last few decades have also been carrying out some experiments with stevia. Stevia’s taste is off flavor and is likened with metal and licorice, which is the greatest drawback for this naturally derived sweeteners. However, the taste profile of stevia extracts have been improved by the producers of naturally derived sweeteners, but owing to its strong flavor this ingredient will never be a whole substitute for sugar. As an alternative, manufacturers can make use of the ingredient to decrease sugar levels, so long as it is mixed with a masking agent such as monk fruit or erythritol. The consumers on the other hand are also less likely to buy a product that’s sweetened with this naturally derived sweeteners.
Monk fruit is a naturally derived sweeteners that is less sweet than stevia but more expensive to produce, and it is steadily eating up the market share. There are more than 2,000 products launched with monk fruit from the time the ingredient was approved by the FDA. In naturally derived sweeteners market, monk fruit is expected to be a big part of the sugar reduction story in the near future. As compared with stevia, the monk fruit is easier to formulate and doesn’t have the metallic off-taste flavor that most people find in stevia. Similar to stevia, monk fruit also doesn’t take part in maillard, but in spite of their similarities, this naturally derived sweeteners benefit from natural positioning and a clean slate. This high potency naturally derived sweeteners has an off-taste of its own – one reminiscent of melon skin. This flavor can be covered by sugar alcohols such as erythritol or ingredients such as agave or honey.
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