Until now, the company told this publication, cola beverage manufacturers – in Europe at least – have mostly launched products using stevia sweeteners to effect a 30% sugar reduction.
One recent high-profile launch was Pepsi NEXT in Australia, where a 30% sugar reduction using zero-calorie sweetener stevia (the first from either Pepsi or Coca-Cola in a cola brand) falls well short of the 60% reduction achieved with other sweeteners in the US.
Mary Quinlan, manager, sweetener technology development, Tate & Lyle, told BeverageDaily.com: “Tasteva Stevia Sweetener is an optimized steviol glycoside composition developed to give a clean taste, without the strong liquorice/bitter taste normally associated with stevia sweeteners.
She added: “This allows its use to achieve higher sugar replacement levels without sacrificing taste. Cola Create does not include any masking agents.”
Sweet taste of cola success?
Tasteva has been used to formulate a cola concept called Cola Create, developed at Tate & Lyle’s innovation center in Lille, France, and presented at Health Ingredients Europe in Frankfurt last week.
Discussing how it developed Tasteva, Tate & Lyle told BeverageDaily.com that it (1) assessed 80+ stevia extracts to understand their composition and sensory characteristics.
The ingredients giant then assessed the impact of the 10-12 steviol glycosides (sweet compounds in the stevia leaf) to assess their impact on overall taste within the matrix of a stevia sweetener.
The firm then (2) isolated specific steviol glycosides, and after more detailed sensory assessments developed Tasteva, with its ‘optimized’ steviol glycoside composition, via a proprietary process.
Asked about the basis for its claim that the ingredient elicited high acceptance during sensory testing, Quinlan said that comparisons against a full sugar version showed that panelists could not tell a “significant difference” between the drinks.
‘We have received a lot of interest…’
Challenges in formulating stevia into a cola drink to create a taste profile similar to that of full sugar – centered on a delicate flavor balance, as Quinlan explained:
“Cola is a complex flavor with many taste characteristics. Whenever a change is made to a beverage formulation, this will impact the flavor.
“So it was important to closely match the sweetness profile of sugar to maintain the overall cola flavor delivery and balance.”
Quinlan was guarded when asked where in the world Tate & Lyle expected beverages using the sweetener to make an initial breakthrough.
“We have received a lot of interest in Tasteva Stevia Sweetener from different regions, and it will be interesting to see who is first to market,” she said.
Stevia sweetener Tasteva itself took Tate & Lyle over two years to develop – after analyzing various steviol glycoside compositions and settling on a proprietary process – and can be used by food and beverage manufacturers to reduce sugar levels by 50% or more.
Launching the sweetener on September 12, the company claimed a “clear taste advantage” over Reb A 97 and other stevia ingredients over a wide application spectrum: from drinks to dairy.
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