New technology set to revolutionise stevia production
Agricultural biotech company Stevia First Corp has developed a combined processing method for sugarcane and stevia leaf, aimed at lowering the barriers to entry into steviol processing.
The process of steviol glycoside extraction and purification has traditionally been capital-intensive and specialised, making investment in new processing facilities around the world difficult. To date, production of stevia has been focused almost entirely in China and South-East Asia, using relatively antiquated methods of agricultural production and leaf processing.
The new techniques incorporate a method for co-processing sugarcane and stevia leaf extract, which could enable signficant reductions in the amount of capital equipment investment required for traditional stevia leaf processing. Instead of producing all leaf in Asia, stevia leaf could be cost-effectively grown and processed anywhere around the globe where sugar is currently grown, making stevia an increasingly more straightforward and reliable replacement for sugar.
According to the company, the technology enables production of stevia-sugar syrups that may reduce calories by as much as 80% and ultimately give the sugar producers a healthier advantage compared to high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). The methodology can also be used for sugar processing alone, making it a low-risk phased investment for the sugar industry.
Robert Brooke, CEO of Stevia First Corp, says that his organisation is setting the stage for a large global increase in stevia consumption, working to give the beverage and sugar industries the tools they need for evolution and change.
“We now have a very clear path to enable beverage companies, their bottlers and their sugar industry partners to rapidly increase global stevia output to meet their mandates for calorie reduction, and to simultaneously diversify their leaf supply in order to ensure there is low-cost and reliable product supply for decades to come,” he said.
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