When formulating or reformulating a product with stevia, the sugar reduction process can sometimes encounter challenges since stevia has different sweetening properties from sugar. Additionally, when it comes to stevia, there is a broad family of glycosides and blends, all with varying properties and flavor profiles as well. To break down these complexities, our experts have created this simple step-by-step guide to formulating with stevia.

Step 1. Determine Sucrose Equivalence for Sugar Replacement

The first step to identifying the best type of stevia for your formulation is to calculate the appropriate amount of sugar, HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup), or other sweetener that would be replaced with stevia. Once you know the sucrose equivalent, read our starter guide on the best types of stevia and recommended usage levels, based on the sweetness you’re looking to replace.

Step 2. Reference Application Matrix for Recommended Stevia

Additionally, we’ve created this convenient Application Matrix that shows our recommended stevia varieties based on sucrose equivalence and application type.

% Sucrose Equivalent Beverages Dairy Baked / Snack Candy Tabletop Concentrate
>18% Pinnacle Pinnacle
Reb D/M Reb D/M
>9% Reb M Reb M Pegasus Pegasus Pegasus
Pinnacle Pinnacle Crest V Crest V
Reb D Reb D Andromeda Andromeda
6-9% Pegasus Pegasus Crest II Crest II Pegasus Andromeda III
Crest V Crest V Reb A 97-99 Reb A 97-99 Crest V
Andromeda Andromeda Andromeda
Crest II Crest II Crest II
Reb A 97-99 Reb A 97-99
0-6% Crest I Crest I Crest I Crest I Crest I Crest I
Reb A Reb A Reb A Reb A Reb A Reb A 50-80

Step 2a. Consider Natural Flavor Labeling

If you are looking to reduce sugar by a small amount, you may be able to use native stevia extract or stevia-derived natural flavors called GSG (Glucosyl Steviol Glycosides). With these options you have the option not to list “Stevia extract” in the ingredients and instead use “Natural Flavor” on your label – which may be applicable if the country your product is launched in follows FEMA guidelines. Small sugar reductions can also help you save on ingredient costs as long as you don’t need to bulk back with other more expensive ingredients.

Recommended GSG Use Levels by Application Type

Glucosyl Steviol Glycosides (GSG) Type Beverages Dairy Baked / Snack Candy Concentrate
Plus 175 ppm 225 ppm 133-500 ppm 100-1500 ppm 175 ppm
4845 100 ppm 100 ppm 100 ppm 100 ppm 100 ppm

Step 3. Add Erythritol or Allulose for Sugar-Free Applications

Do you need more upfront sweetness, particularly for sugar-free applications? You may want to consider adding erythritol or allulose. Just note, these ingredients cost significantly more than sugar so this would have to be factored into the overall product development.

Step 4. Increase Sweetness with Plant-Based Ingredients

Has your sweetness from stevia plateaued and you still need more sweetness? Consider combining with Andromeda II — our unique blend of steviol glycosides — or adding monkfruit to further increase the sweetness impact on highly-sweetened products.

Step 5. Add Bulk for Bakery and Confectionery Products

Is your sugar reduction application a bakery, confection, or other product that requires bulking the product back to its original weight? You may want to consider adding bulk using flour, water, maltodextrin or ingredients already in the formula. In addition, isomalto-oligosaccharide (IMO) is a sweet bulking syrup that our experts often recommend.

Below is a chart that is used to differentiate between various sweetener options with relative sweetness, calories, solubility, and Glycemic Index values.

Ingredient Relative Sweetness Calories % Solubility (at 25ºC) Glycemic Index
Allulose 62 – 70 0.4 225 0
Erythritol 62 – 70 0.2 37 0
Tagatose 90 – 100 1.5 – 2.4 55 3
Xylitol 90 – 100 2.4 63 8
Resistant Dextrin 10 – 30 1.2 – 2.1 80 10
IMO 34 – 50 2.4 100 35
Trehalose 25 – 45 4 69 72
Inulin 15 – 30 1.5 10 – 75 4
Sorbitol 50 – 60 2.6 70 5
Polydextrose 5 – 10 1 80 6
Maltitol 70 2.1 62 34
Isomalt 50 2 26 9

Step 6. Balance Acid Levels and Modulate Flavors as Needed

Once you’ve finalized the sweetness level, you may need to adjust and recalibrate other ingredients in the formula. One common example is balancing stevia with levels of acid, which is often found in sweetened products. If your application is a ready-to-drink beverage, be sure to monitor the shelf life if the product is near or below a pH of 3. Stevia may degrade over time in very high-acid conditions and when stored in ambient or warmer conditions.

If you notice a sweetness linger that cannot be resolved using a more premium stevia, you may try adding 100-200ppm of a sodium source like salt. You can also add a couple natural flavors like our cost-effective DSG Flavor TN or DGS Flavor FH-80, which is also a sweetness enhancer. These flavors block off-notes from other ingredients in your product like vitamins, CBD, or proteins. In the formulation example below, our DGS TN flavor helped cover some off-notes from the vitamin mix in our PQx Prevail beverage product.

Ingredient Amount (g)
Erythritol 83.258
Stevia Andromeda 0.56
Plus – Stevia Flavor 0.317
Howtian PQQ, Acid 0.145
Howtian Inositol 2.174
Howtian DGS TN Flavor 0.054
Citrus Flavor 1.087
Citric Acid 7.246
Vitamin Mix 5.159
Total 100g

Step 7. Add Nutritional Value with PQQ, Inositol, and Vitamin E

Could your product development benefit from nutritional additives? You should consider formulating with Pyrroloquinoline Quinone (PQQ) for a healthy mind, heart, and body. Inositol is great for skin health and supporting good energy levels, while the more bio-available Vitamin E is also a good addition for its benefits as a powerful antioxidant.

In need of more detailed guidance for your formulation? View our webinar which covers the complete product development process. If you’re interested in learning more or partnering with us, please get in touch and contact one of our experts.