Stevia First announces novel fermentation method30 Jan 2015
Stevia First has announced what it says is an important achievement and addition to its stevia production technologies. The company says it has successfully developed novel fermentation methods to produce steviol, a key step in the production of all steviol glycosides, the sweet substances found naturally within the stevia plant. Upon commercialisation, steviol glycosides will […]
The company says it has successfully developed novel fermentation methods to produce steviol, a key step in the production of all steviol glycosides, the sweet substances found naturally within the stevia plant. Upon commercialisation, steviol glycosides will serve in the reduction of sugar consumption and aid for the prevention of metabolic disorders.
In related news, Stevia First has also recently developed a proprietary process that converts abundant precursor molecules found within the stevia leaf into high-purity Reb A, the best tasting of the more abundant steviol glycosides. This enzyme enhancement process could more than double the output of high-purity Reb A per acre of stevia leaf and the company could use similar fermentation methods as described above for low-cost production of stevia enzymes within this process. Analogous fermentation methods have already been proven economical for ingredients critical to the food and beverage industry and their use is increasingly widespread around the globe.
“We’re intent on rapidly increasing the global supply of stevia, and are enabling this through a variety of methods including biosynthesis and mechanized agriculture,” said Robert Brooke, CEO of Stevia First. “The continued rise in health concerns along with increased occurrences of diabetes and obesity is expected to drive the demand and growth for sugar substitutes over the next six years, making this a very crucial time for what we have produced. This achievement is another demonstration of what our R&D team can accomplish in a very short period of time.”
It is currently estimated that 70% or more of the cost of Reb A stevia extract is directly attributable to the cost of stevia leaf production, and the cost of stevia leaf extract has increased considerably due to a shortage of leaf supply. Next-generation stevia sweeteners such as Reb D or Reb M may be more “sugar-like” than Reb A, but they also are very rare and therefore even more expensive to obtain through traditional leaf extraction, Stevia First said. The company says it has succeeded in developing novel fermentation methods that enable production of steviol, a key intermediate molecule in the production of all sweet steviol glycosides, including stevia and next-gen stevia sweeteners, and this factor could greatly reduce or even bypass entirely the need for stevia leaf production.
It is common within industry, and often a starting point, to use glucose-fed yeast within a fermentation production system due to its relative ease of use, according to Stevia First. This latest fermentation process developed by Stevia First, however, is said to be unique in that it takes advantage of a new production system, one which can be used within solid-state fermentations and does not require glucose as an input material. Solid state fermentations can recycle agricultural by-products for use as input materials, use less water, and may also require relatively little capital equipment for operation. Compared to alternative methods in use today, these advantages could enable a fermentation production system that is even more economical and environmentally-friendly.
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