Steviol glycosides are generally marketd as sweetener in three major forms :

 

Pure steviol glycosides - Not used by end users. Generally used for downstream formulation for more user friendly products. Often used in pharmaceutical products.

 

Retail table top products - Formulated for end use in different formats like sachets, tablets, liquid drops and spoonable mix.

 

Industrial Pre-mixes - Formulated for bulk users in food and beverages industries.

 

The last to formats are actually a mixture of steviol glycosides with fillers, taste modifiers, stabilizers, preservatives and flavors. 

 

As a sweetener, steviol glycosides poses several technical challenges to the formulators. Some of the major technical challanges are -

 

  1. Slow onset of the sweetness

  2. Hollow sweetness.

  3. Long lasting aftertaste.

  4. Perceptible bitterness above 6% sucrose equivalency.

  5. Short shelf life for the liquid product.

  6. Keeping a clean and natural label while reducing calories

  7. Side effects of the auxiliary components.

  8. COST

The challenges with steviol glycosides as sweetener

Calorie reduction through different formulations

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Taste Panel Result - Sachets

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Taste Panel Result - Liquid Drops

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Retail Products

The tools available for a formulator for overcoming the challenges are as follows.

 

Filler – Low calorie and low sweetness intensity carbohydrates, which complement and enhance the sweet taste and suppress the aftertaste.

Additives – Which compensate the hollowness of sweetness and slow onset.
Anticaking agent – To make the products free flowing.

Solubility enhancer – To achieve higher concentration of glycosides in liquid products.

Preservative – For preventing microbial spoilage of liquid formulations.
Stabilizers – For lowering the rate of chemical degradation of steviol glycosides in liquid products.

Lubricants and glidants - To minimize the sticking of the tablets in dies and on punches.

Disintegrants - To facilitate rapid dissolution of tablets.

 

I have designed several retail formulations with the following characteristics

 

For sachets and soopnable mixes

 

Two component main filler - One filler component induces sharper sweet taste and enhances the rapid onset of sweetness. The other component imperts mellower sweet mouthfeel and absorbs bitterness.

Organic taste modifiers - Multiple components to fill up the hollowness of the sweetness and making the sweetness curve steeper.

 

Apart from these, the issues like hygroscopicity, free flow characteristics and shelf life has also taken care of. The formulation produced much better taste panel report than one of the most recognised brand. 

 

For Liquid drops

 

Multicomponent liquid vehicle - One component supplements for well rounded sweetness It also functions as organic preservative, viscosity enhancer, crystallization preventer and stabilizing agent. The other component acts as sweetness enhancer and orovides good initial onset and sharpness. It also enhances solubility of steviol glycosides.

Organic taste modifiers - Multiple components to fill up the hollowness of the sweetness and making the sweetness curve steeper.

 

Apart from this constituents, the liquid formulation also contains organic preservatives and antioxidants for extraded shelf life.

Industrial Pre-mixes

The technical challanges for production of steviol glycoside sweetened foods are as follows :

 

1. ​​Lost functional properties of sugar: 

a. Volume  

b. Texture & mouth feel  

c. Shelf life 

d. Fermentation 

e. Freezing point reduction 

f. Color 

g. Moisture retention 

2. Compensate for the lingering sweetness 

3. Compensate for the licorice aftertaste & bitterness 

4. Keep a clean and natural label while minimizing calories Side effect of these formulation challenges 

5. COST

 

To address these issues, we have developed application specific pre-mixes for different food and beverage industries, which offer -

 

  • Making up the volume without contributing a large amount of calories

  • Simulation of the exact taste and mouth-feel of sugar

  • Maintenance the original texture and stability

  • Freedom from after-taste

  • Improvement of the keeping quality

  • Low glycemic index 

Bakery

 

  • No degradation at high temperature

  • Minimal loss in volume

  • No loss in texture

  • Maintenance of original flavor

  • No adverse effect on keeping quality
     

Characteristics of the different Pre-mixes developed for different industries

Beverages

 

  • SolubilityCompatibility with low pH

  • No crystallization/ turbidity /haze formation under low temperature

  • Compatibility with flavor and color

Dairy

 

  • SolubilityCompatibility with low pH

  • No crystallization/ turbidity /haze formation under low temperature

  • Compatibility with flavor and color

Confectionery

 

  • Stability at high temperature

  • Non-hygroscopic

  • Good dispersion 

  • Do not induce crystallization

  • Controlled caramelization

  • Compatibility with added colors and flavors

Jam/Jelly/Sauces

 

  • Stability at low pH and high temperature

  • Minimal volume and texture loss

  • Simulation of sugary flavor

  • No adverse effect on shelf life

Formulation