Sweetness enhancers could be the next major development in the sweeteners category, according to London-based market analysts Euromonitor.
Euromonitor said high-intensity sweeteners market was maturing, and that future development of new ingredients was unlikely. "The level of investment needed to bring a new additive to market is restrictive and, looking at the current marketplace, there do not appear to be any gaps left to fill, either in terms of technical requirements or consumer demands," it explained. "Aspartame and acesulfame K are popular, well-established sweeteners, sucralose is making a major name for itself and stevia extracts are causing such a buzz in natural sweetening that there appears to be little or no demand for a new chemical ingredient."
However, Euromonitor said there were there now signs of a possible new focus for R&D in the field of sweetening — sweetness enhancement. "Most recently, this concept has come under the spotlight as an offshoot from growing exploitation of stevia leaf and is centered on the lesser-known Rebaudioside C component of stevia. Unlike Reb A, Reb C is not a sweetener in its own right but instead it acts as a sweetness enhancer — or potentiator.
"The use of Reb A is restricted by the possible aftertaste that results when too large a quantity is used and this effectively limits use to around 25-30% sugar replacement before taste quality is impacted. However, Reb C developers claim that, through adding this component, as much as 50% of the sugar can be substituted without affecting quality. Reb C's presence has no impact on the sweetness of Reb A but acts instead on the sugar or nutritive sweetener and it means that, by using Reb C, a 5% sugar content would give the same sweet taste as 10%."
Euromonitor said US-based ingredients supplier Redpoint Bio was already producing trial quantities of Reb C for potential partners to explore the possible applications. Euromonitor said: "\[Redpoint Bio\] believes that, in certain jurisdictions, Reb C would already be authorised for use under existing stevia approvals. In other countries, it is likely to pass the same safety tests as Reb A and should move through the legislative process in a similar time frame.
"All in all, it would be no surprise to see Reb C emerge as the first in a new generation of sweetness enhancers, offering food and drinks manufacturers yet another option for cutting the content of sugar and other carbohydrate sweeteners."
Euromonitor has published a new report examining recent developments in high intensity sweeteners — 'High-Intensity Sweeteners in Soft Drinks — Growing Choice in an Evolving Market.'