September 26, 2022 — Thanks to a dedicated team and decade-long commitment to intense agricultural science and research, HOWTIAN is proud to officially announce a critical milestone in their endeavour to create natural, accessible food & nutrition products for the masses.
HOWTIAN has achieved up to 12% average Reb A yield this season – the highest ever in the industry and a significant turning point as stevia costs approach parity with artificial sweeteners.
Natural solutions for everyone — this is more than an ideal, but rather a commitment the founder of HOWTIAN, Zhu Liping, made at the company’s start in 1999. Through his travels and remote explorations, he understood nature as the answer for everything and believed its benefits shouldn’t be limited to those with greater means. This philosophy remains intact decades later. In fact, it was the driving force behind the founding of HOWTIAN’s stevia ventures in 2009 and the drive for Project Shennong.
Project Shennong was inspired by the mythological Chinese ruler, Shennong Shi. Known as the “Divine Farmer” and celebrated as the father of Chinese Medicine, the ancient ruler taught his people new agricultural practices, herbal drug remedies, and the importance of living a healthier life.
Project Shennong began at a time when different steviol glycoside (the sweet component of stevia) processing technologies were emerging worldwide. In this growth period however, HOWTIAN saw many divert from the natural-leaf extraction technology and start to compromise the naturalness of their manufactured stevia for cost savings.
Over the past 10 years, HOWTIAN chose a different path in launching Project Shennong. They decided to set themselves apart and offer solutions that keep natural principles at the forefront, while also achieving an affordable cost by:
Investing in R&D to develop higher steviol glycoside yielding plant varieties
Testing and scaling them for mass production
“Ten years ago, the average Reb A yield of the stevia plant was about 4.0% and has increased to about 7.0% over the years. We are delighted to announce that this season, we have achieved a minimum of 9.5% Reb A yield, with some plants as high as 12% average yield, which is the highest ever seen in the stevia industry,” says Tom Fuzer, VP of Market Strategy at HOWTIAN.
This accomplishment is groundbreaking for food and beverage manufacturers who were unable to justify the more expensive price tag of stevia – historically 6 to 15 times the cost of artificial sweeteners. Thanks to Project Shennong and HOWTIAN’s newest stevia variants, the cost in use of stevia is quickly approaching parity with traditional artificial sugar substitutes.
“Companies once compelled by cost constraints to choose artificial sweeteners now no longer need to compromise. We anticipate the adoption of stevia to accelerate significantly in the most price sensitive markets, including beverages, snacking and sports nutrition,” notes Fuzer.
With production capacity of 8,000 metric tons, HOWTIAN is the largest stevia manufacturer in the world.
“We are proud to be at the forefront of the industry and to lead the innovations that’ll drive mass market adoption of natural ingredient solutions like stevia,” adds Fuzer.
September 15, 2022 — VP of Market Strategy Tom Fuzer was recently asked to provide the HOWTIAN perspective on the meteoric rise of natural sweeteners like stevia in an in-depth interview with ConfectioneryNews.
In the conversation, he explains that food and beverage products with sugar-reduction claims have increased by 13.5% over the past five years — and leading that charge are plant-derived ingredients, thanks to rising consumer demand for clean, natural sugar alternatives.
The article speaks not only to the growing market for natural sugar substitutes, but also the evolution of their taste and incorporation into food and beverage products. This of course includes the confectionery category, and we shared some insights on how to best formulate with stevia for candys and confections.
There are a variety of methods for successfully replacing sugar in confections and replicating its properties beyond sweetness, says Tom Fuzer, VP of Market Strategy at HOWTIAN, the world’s largest manufacturer of natural stevia leaf extracts. “One we’ve found particularly essential is the use of a bulking agent to supplement natural sweeteners and maintain the size of the candy. Natural bulking agents, such as erythritol, allulose, and soluble fiber are also often needed to provide a similar mouthfeel or chew.
The interview also addresses how the industry continues to face challenges with “outdated” perceptions of stevia as a bitter-tasting sugar substitute. It was a good opportunity to speak to the innovations stevia has seen over the years as more and more better-tasting glycosides, such as Reb D and Reb M, are commercialized. In fact, HOWTIAN’s own SoPure™ Stevia is well-reputed by our customers to be one of the most consistent-tasting stevia brands from batch to batch. This is all thanks to company’s vertically integrated manufacturing process and centrally managed production of raw stevia extract.
August 30, 2022 — Technical Director Hank Wang and VP of Market Strategy Tom Fuzer were invited back as guest contributors for New Food Magazine, where they discuss natural and artificial sweetener trends, and provide insights on ingredient applications for natural sweeteners.
With over 40 percent of the world’s population reportedly overweight and 14 percent obese, mounting public health concerns have compelled bodies like The World Health Organization to recommend governments adopt regulations and policies that curb sugar intake. Consumers alike are looking for healthier options and as such, food & beverage manufacturers are increasingly reformulating their products for sugar reduction.
In this article, we explore the past, present and future of leading natural sweetener alternatives to sugar — such as stevia, monk fruit and erythritol.
But not all natural sweeteners and their varieties are the same, and it can be hard to navigate the plethora of “clean labels” out there. That’s why the HOWTIAN team operates with the utmost transparency regarding our environmental, ethical and sustainable stevia practices.
These practices are essential to how HOWTIAN maintains their status as the #1 manufacturer of natural stevia. Our premium SoPure™ product line notably reduces off-notes and aftertaste, even at high-use levels, and can be combined with other varieties to optimize taste and cost.
Thanks to the New Food team, once more, for the special platform to share our industry perspective! 🙏
June 13, 2022 — Over the past few years, HOWTIAN has been making significant investments towards our mission of making stevia more accessible to food & beverage manufacturers and ultimately to consumers of those products. Through agronomy research and innovations in production, we have worked to reduce the cost of stevia as close as possible to that of artificial sweeteners. As COVID-19 has impacted global supply chains and is now disrupting the supply and availability of stevia, our research and manufacturing investments in stevia are paying off.
Much of these efforts have been focused on breeding different stevia varieties with the highest yield levels of the most desired glycosides. Last year, HOWTIAN launched a special project to develop varieties with even greater yields of Rebaudioside A, the most popular glycoside.
Thanks to this work, we are excited to announce that the Reb A content of our new seedlings reaches as high as 78%. Our 3,000-mu200-hectare breeding base has been in full swing since the beginning of the year to realize the rapid cultivation of the highest yielding seedlings.
With the current supply shortage of Reb A stevia, all of this comes at an opportune time. HOWTIAN’s inventory of Reb A remains in abundant supply for our customers, and we are anticipating our new harvest at the end of this year will play a significant role in easing the market’s stevia supply challenges. For more information about our available stevia, please get in touch with one of our representatives.
June 2, 2022 — VP of Market Strategy Tom Fuzer was recently invited as a guest contributor for New Food, where he explains in-depth the importance of traceability and safety in stevia supply chains, especially in the face of global supply disruptions.
With over 5 billion customers each year, stevia has become adopted into mainstream food and beverage products. But not all stevia is made equal, which is why knowing the quality, safety and sustainability of your stevia supply is paramount.
Alongside stringent quality control systems that meet and exceed international standards, the HOWTIAN team has implemented COVID-19 protocols to ensure safety. We also employ a precise traceability system to record and track each lot of our stevia product.
Thanks to the New Food team for the special opportunity to share our industry perspective! 🙏
April 12, 2022 — Food & Beverage Asia interviewed and profiled HOWTIAN in an in-depth feature discussing stevia’s adoption among consumers in recent years, the yet-untapped potential of Asian markets, and the next generation of stevia products. Tom Fuzer, VP of Market Strategy, shares insights on marketplace trends and innovation in the stevia industry.
“The stevia market has increased rapidly over the last decade or so, and the growth is projected to continue in the coming years,” he continued. “Industry experts forecast an annual growth rate of 8-9% in the next 6-7 years, so the outlook is very promising. With these dynamics, stevia is one of the fastest-growing sweeteners, way ahead of the others mentioned.”
This is so especially in Asia, where he identified Japan as one of the most mature stevia makets globally. The region is tapped as having the highest potential for growth for stevia. “There are still many untapped opportunities in this part of the world,” he said. “Despite providing more than 80% of the global production, stevia is still relatively unknown among Chinese consumers. The growth potential is also huge in India and SouthEast Asia.”
The HOWTIAN agricultural science centre and their R&D laboratories have developed new leaf variants with third and fourth generation minor glycosides for further applications. For stronger sugar reduction, he continued, these products and HOWTIAN’s signature blends deliver a sensorial experience.
Fuzer said: “Our R&D team is focused on innovating to make naturally extracted, high-quality stevia much more accessible for markets around the world… Our mission is to bring the best stevia solutions closer to people and change its current position as a high cost, niche, luxury sweetener. Our agricultural science team is continuously developing new leaf variants that provide excellent taste with even better yield.
Read the full article at Food & Beverage Asia here.