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‘Relight my (Cola) Fire?’ FDA approves PureCircle Reb D stevia

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‘Relight my (Cola) Fire?’ FDA approves PureCircle Reb D stevia

July 12
09:38 2013

The US FDA has issued a ‘No Objection’ GRAS letter allowing beverage manufacturers to use Pure Circle’s high-purity Reb D stevia to sweeten US products, a move that could reignite the Pepsi/Coke cola wars.

The news will have a significant effect on the US carbonated soft drinks market (perhaps most intriguingly in the cola sphere) since both PepsiCo and The Coca-Cola Company are PureCircle clients, and are likely to consider launches using the new stevia ingredient.

PepsiCo has a stevia supply agreement with PureCircle running until June 2014, and the soft drinks giant has filed patents (here is one published in March 2013) detailing Reb D’s desirable taste profile – versus earlier stevia derivative Rebaudioside A – in diet carbonated soft drinks such as colas.

Meanwhile, Coke and PureCircle announced last Monday that they plan to seek Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) approval for another novel stevia sweetener, Rebaudioside X (Reb X); on June 27 Coca-Cola Life with stevia (Cargill’s Truvia stevia extract) was launched in Argentina.

Around 270 sweeter than sugar…

PureCircle, which is the world’s largest stevia supplier and marketer, said in a London Stock Exchange (LSE) announcement – the news comes after it self-affirmed GRAS status on March 4 – that it was preparing for “immediate commercialization” of ≥95% Reb D.

“[This] will play an important role in extending the company’s breakthrough Stevia 3.0 innovation,” the firm added; PureCircle said this spring that it will initially focus on US launches.

The company insists that in-house research has identified high-purity Rebaudioside D (Reb D) – about x270 sweeter than sugar – as having one of the best sweetness profiles of any steviol glycoside from the stevia leaf.

But in its January GRAS notification submission to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), PureCircle (via Robert McQuate at GRAS Associates) admits that the extent to which stevia-based sweeteners will penetrate the US food supply, and the extent to which the market will select mixed steviol glycosides or Reb A products versus Reb D products “remain uncertain”.

PureCircle admits Reb D costs more

“Furthermore, it is likely that Reb D will not be used as the sole sweetener in all products because it will be priced higher than other high purity steviol glycosides and will likely be blended with other steviol glycosides to attain desired flavor profiles for particular foods,” PureCircle said.

Recent market developments (as of January) had seen several new products have marketed with a blend of different steviol glycosides where Reb A was the major component, the firm added.

“It is expected that, to get optimum sweetness profiles and cost effectiveness, blends of steviol glycosides with Reb D as the major component will be used for different food and beverage applications,” PureCircle said in the GRAS notification submission.

In March PureCircle said its Reb D commercialization – the firm has 25+ patents for it – followed more than a decade of R&D and followed breakthroughs across its vertically integrated supply chain.

PureCircle was not contactable for comment this morning in both Malaysia and the UK, with BeverageDaily.com referred to the company’s US office.

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