In 2022, widespread drought throughout China — where a large percentage of the world’s stevia is produced — set to disrupt the stevia production and supply chain of the coveted crop. However, thanks to new production technologies, marketplace demand was met by HOWTIAN and others in the industry, and the stevia supply chain remained strong.
Stevia Business Unit Director Mavis Ran shed light on this surprising discovery for Food Ingredients First; caveating that HOWTIAN was “no exception” to recent climate and supply chain challenges. She commented:
“These challenges are driven by several factors, starting from macro issues like climate change, down to those more specific to stevia — such as the natural inconsistency of the key sweet components in stevia leaves.”
In an effort to combat these natural challenges, HOWTIAN mitigates risk through R&D investments, diversification of plantation regions and increasing steviol glycoside content in new leaf varieties that are better suited for a diversity of climate conditions.
“In 2022, a critical milestone for stevia was reached when we saw the industry’s highest ever Reb A yield of 12% from our newest leaf variety. This was welcome news for F&B manufacturers worldwide as stevia was more affordable and accessible than ever,” shares Ran.
Still, there are man-made factors that cause industry-wide issues like the rising cost of energy, inflation and labor costs. But again, HOWTIAN is confident in the reliability and availability of its stevia supply, rooted in the fact that its stevia is produced and grown by natural, sustainable methods. In fact, our proprietary clean extraction technology saves 60% in water consumption along with significant energy savings.
“Unlike ingredients that depend on chemical processing which can be affected by multiple cost impactors, natural stevia relies only on limited processing with fewer auxiliary materials,” Ran comments.
HOWTIAN’s long-term optimization efforts date back to before recent industry challenges. Our method and mission to produce a reliable supply of better-tasting stevia in a sustainable manner allows us to remain a leader in stevia production, even in the face of economic and natural challenges.
We’d like to thank Food Ingredients First for the opportunity to share our perspectives. You can read the full article here.
Join HOWTIAN on the road in 2023 — We’re excited to be announcing our upcoming schedule for HOWTIAN’s North American roadshow! From the months of February to April, we’ll be exhibiting across the US and Canada at seven different IFT and CIFST Suppliers Night events. These local events are always excellent opportunities for food and beverage companies to meet with our experts and try our specially-formulated product demonstrations, like sugar-reduced cake pops, cookies and more. They’re also a great way to meet and network with members of the food and beverage community and share knowledge to advance our industry forward. Thousands across the nation flock to these events to experience supplier exhibits, see the latest demos and make important industry connections.
Be sure to check the dates below and we hope to see you on the road!
Exhibition Location: National Exhibition and Convention Center, Shanghai
Booth No. 21F40
Hall No. 2.1
Food Ingredients China (FIC) is Asia’s largest event in the food additives and ingredients industry, with 1,500+ exhibitors and over 50,000 attendees. The three-day exhibition offers conferences and technical seminars with some of the most authoritative food science and technology leaders in the industry.
Stop by booth no. 21F40 at #FIC this year to meet the HOWTIAN team. You can experience HOWTIAN’s latest sugar reduction solutions with stevia, as well as learn more about our portfolio of functional ingredients including baicalin, inositol, and pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ).
Like all HOWTIAN exhibitions, we’ll have plenty of products to demonstrate and a variety of tasty sampling to try, so be sure to visit our booth and meet with our technical experts.
The “cake pop” started out as a sweet alternative to cutting cake by the slice, in Angie Dudley’s home kitchen in Atlanta, Georgia. However, these trendy lollipop cakes smothered in icing are now staples in almost every bakery and Starbucks worldwide. Which begs the question… “Wouldn’t it be great if we could reduce sugar without sacrificing their tasty flavor?”
Since 2015, the cake pop industry has seen a meteoric rise, gaining so much momentum that it’s fueled countless businesses, food trucks, and even national cake pop conferences. According to Data Bridge Market Research, the cake pops market is projected to reach a market value of USD $250 million by 2029.
The Rising Popularity of Cake Pops For Health Reasons
Due to the convenience of these cake bites and their naturally “healthier” portion size, Data Bridge Market Research projects the cake pop market to grow at a CAGR of nearly 3% during the next 6 years.
Market research firm Technavio attributes a great deal of cake pops’ popularity to the prominence and rise of in-store bakeries in 2018. These in-store bakeries offered a “one-stop-shop” experience, giving a platform to cake pops and more portable bakery products. Their market study shows that alongside cake pop’s surge in popularity is also a congruent rise in demand for “healthier snack variants.”
While cake pops may be a “healthier” alternative to a full slice of cake, portion control is just the beginning of creating a “better for you” product. Also critical is reducing their sugar content. In line with shifting preferences towards healthier sweets, there has been a strong and steady growth in the use of natural sweeteners like stevia, erythritol and monk fruit. Innova Market Insights reports that global product launches with such sweeteners have been on the rise for more than a decade.
Among these natural alternatives, stevia is by far the most popular with 63% of product launches using natural non-nutritive sweeteners in 2022.
There is a wide array of natural sweetener solutions on the market that can replace the onset sweetness of consumers’ beloved cake pops, but achieving the optimal formulations for these sweet confections can be rather nuanced.
Solving the Challenges of Sweetening Cake Pops
In our global markets, granular sugar can be replaced with our stevia and erythritol mix (Stevia:Erythritol 1x). This product is co-processed for uniformity so that the fine powdered stevia doesn’t separate from the large erythritol crystals during shipping or processing. The taste and binding properties are a perfect match to the sugar that it replaces.
But whether or not that first bite tastes just as delicious as the popular, sugary cake pop recipes, the challenge may lie in preconceived notions when creating a sugar-free alternative.
VP of Market Strategy, Tom Fuzer, recently addressed some consumers’ outdated perceptions of stevia:
“When Reb A was first introduced, the industry rushed to market with products that featured stevia but neglected to optimize for its taste profile. Formulations with high use of levels of Reb A, particularly the low purity grades, created bitterness, aftertaste and other off-notes that consumers now continue to associate with stevia. Since then, improvements in the taste of stevia have come a long way. In the past five years, minor glycosides such as Reb D and Reb M have been commercialized and taste much better than Reb A,” Fuzer said.
As a result, the natural sweeteners industry had to take a look at reformulating with these better-tasting glycosides, particularly in sugar-free formulas for baked goods.
In the U.S. market, our DGS sweetener series could also be used as 1:1 drop-in sugar replacements. In particular, our E100 and F100 blends are suitable for baking applications like cake pops.
DGS E100, which is a mixture of erythritol, allulose, stevia leaf extract, and natural flavor, works well in the inside cake portion as it’s more effective in binding the dough together. It’s important to note that the usage of binding agents helps hold all the ingredients in a formulation together so it is not too crumbly, playing a big role in contributing to the texture you know and expect in a baked good. When using E100 in the batter for cake pops, E100 will tend to be more firm compared to the “crumbly” baking applications with F100.
Our F100 baking product, which is a mixture of allulose, soluble fiber, stevia leaf extract, and natural flavor, is great for coating the cake with a delicious white chocolate coating. F100 has 31% fiber, adding a positive nutritional element as many US consumers lack sufficient fiber in their daily diets. It works best in baked food applications that benefit from having browning or spread, since it contains more allulose than E100.
“Allulose behaves similar to sugar in that it undergoes Maillard browning, which is the reaction of heat with sugar to produce a brown color and taste. Allulose however reacts faster than sugar so baking conditions may need to be modified to get the same color,” states HOWTIAN Technical Director, Hank Wang.
Luckily, both allulose and erythritol work exceedingly well with stevia. In fact, they combine to better replicate the sweetness intensity and timing of sugar’s taste profile — with stevia producing the greater intensity while allulose and erythritol offer the more immediate sweetness. Additionally, they both complement stevia well because they can act as bulking agents that make up for the missing volume from reducing or replacing sugar in cake pops.
Product Demo: Our Stevia Formulation for Cake Pops
To illustrate these sugar reduction techniques in action, HOWTIAN was able to replace all the added granular sugar in a traditional cake pop recipe with our stevia-based sugar replacers. Based on HOWTIAN’s demonstration and product sampling at industry events like Supply Side West, taste testers couldn’t tell there was any sugar reduction — and the results really showed as our cake pops were flying off the trays.
To experiment with your own cake pop formulation, you can start with our recommended formulas below.
Red Velvet Cake Pops
Red Velvet Cake Pops (66% Reduced Sugar)
White Chocolate Chips
DGS E100 Sugar Replacer or Stevia:Erythritol 1x
DGS f100 Sugar Replacer or Stevia:Erythritol 1x
Red Food Coloring
Pumpkin Cheesecake Pops
Pumpkin Cheesecake Pops (66% Reduced Sugar)
White Chocolate Chips
DGS F100 Sugar Replacer or Stevia:Erythritol 1x
DGS E100 Sugar Replacer or Stevia:Erythritol 1x
If you need help with reformulating for cake pops or baked good products and applications, HOWTIAN engineers are available to help meet your challenges. We can assist in developing a customized strategy for your product(s) with cost-effective solutions and reliable supply. Please contact us to learn more.
Most diets come and go with the seasons, but one fad diet has only grown in its popularity, even forcing major brand names to hop on the “Keto Diet” bandwagon…
The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat method that is similar to the less new, yet familiar, Atkins diet. Keto’s appeal, however, is derived from its emphasis on foods that are high in fat like red meat, avocados, cheese, nuts, and a variety of other “taboo” foods not commonly approved by strict diet plans. Keto’s popular approach forces one to drastically reduce their carbohydrate intake — like grains, fruit, and traditional sugars — and replace it with fat to achieve a state of ketosis. In this metabolic state, the body is able to burn fat more efficiently for energy.
Over the past several years, followers of the diet have been able to keep the keto craze going, thanks in part to some of the diets’ reported and studied results, including:
Excess fat loss
Improved insulin sensitivity
Reduced levels of hemoglobin A1C
Food and beverage manufacturers have followed suit. Innova Market Insights reports that keto-friendly food and beverage products peaked in 2020-2021 after its marked inception in 2017, but still continues to experience remarkably strong growth in the number of new launches each year.
Amongst the various food categories, baked goods are leading the way in adoption of keto. Also according to Innova Marketing Insights, an outstanding 27% of new product launches that mention “keto” fall into the bakery category.
In addition to baked goods and cereals, sports nutrition also has a 10% stake in keto-friendly product launches. This is in line with reports that 25% of US sports nutrition consumers are seeking out high sources of protein made with real, natural ingredients and low/no/reduced sugar — qualities that perfectly describe what keto dieters are looking for.
Although seemingly ironic at first, in recent years keto-friendly “Sweets” have risen in prominence since the craze began. This includes a variety of categories including soft drinks, snacks, desserts and more. Sweetening a keto-friendly product requires sugar reduction, and replacement with more natural solutions. Companies have shifted their traditional sweetening method in baked goods, cereals and even sports drinks to natural sweeteners like stevia. Stevia’s high intensity sweetness and zero calories allows manufacturers to formulate new “keto” products without sacrificing taste.
Major Brands Shifted to Keto-Friendly Products
The keto craze experienced a meteoric rise with no signs of stopping. So naturally, big-name, diet-plan brands began to shift their focus to keto-friendly product lines. Trusted names like SlimFast and Atkins created these niche products dedicated to their already low-carb dieters, but with more of an emphasis on high-fat intake — in other words, the keto method.
Challenge: Foods High in Carbs & Sugars Are Not Typically Keto-Friendly
The inherent challenge of sweetening keto-friendly products lies in the method’s strict low-carb directive. In fact, most common types of sugary treats and some sugar-free candies are either reduced or otherwise eliminated entirely, according to the keto diet.
Below is a list of common non keto-friendly foods:
Sugary Foods: soda, fruit juice, smoothies, cake, ice cream, candy, etc.
Grains or Starches: wheat-based products, rice, pasta, cereal, etc.
Fruit: all fruit, except small portions of berries like strawberries
Beans or Legumes: peas, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.
Root Vegetables & Tubers: potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc.
Low-Fat or Diet Products: low-fat mayonnaise, salad dress, condiments
Some Condiments or Sauces: barbecue sauce, honey mustard, teriyaki sauce, ketchup, etc.
Unhealthy Fats: processed vegetable oils, mayonnaise, etc.
Alcohol: beer, wine, liquor, mixed drinks
Some Sugar-Free Diet Foods: sugar-free candies, syrups, puddings, sweeteners, desserts, etc.
How to Formulate Keto Products
Formulating for keto products will typically follow a simple, low net-carb calculation. If a product has 10 grams of total carbs, certain carbohydrates that the keto diet permits will be netted out from the calculation. Below is an example of how we may reduce the 10 grams of carbs:
4 grams of fiber
2 grams of allulose
3 grams of sugar alcohol
When subtracting these keto-friendly ingredients, your resulting net carbs in this case would equal only 1 gram. Stevia is a recommended and particularly popular sweetener for keto, but ingredients like allulose and fibers like resistant dextrin, inulin, and certain oligosaccharides may be considered as well. Note that when formulating with fibers, they aren’t as readily digestible so you’ll want to stay below 10 to 15 grams per dosage.
So, What’s Our Solution?
Replace Traditional Sugars With Stevia: Lowers Your Carbs, Calories & Sugars
Keto formulas typically try to reduce the sugar as much as possible. So if you have no other sweeteners in your formula, a good starting stevia to use for significant sugar reduction is Reb D. It is lower cost than Reb M and very close in overall taste. Unless your product needs to be crystal clear, Reb D would be a great choice. A lower cost option would be to use Reb A 98 at the highest level possible and then top off with Reb D. This would be a good option if you have other sweeteners in your product, too.
As an example, in a beverage you may start with 360ppm of Reb A 98 and adjust the use level up or down depending on the desired taste. Our testing has found that 360ppm of Reb A 98 can replace 6-7 sucrose equivalents and not have many off-notes. However, if you want to match the taste profile of full sugar very closely, a use level of ~200ppm can replace about 5 sucrose equivalents.
In addition to our line of stevia extracts, HOWTIAN offers a variety of solutions for food & beverage manufacturers developing keto-friendly products. Our DGS sweetener blends utilize a mix of replacement carbs that would be netted out in a true ketogenic formula. HOWTIAN’s DGS series is an ideal drop-in solution for a 1:1 replacement of sugar in most applications that require bulking.
Alternatively, allulose is a rare sugar approved in select countries and exempted from the sugar labels in countries like the U.S. and Mexico. Similar to allulose, erythritol is a favorite low-calorie sweetener choice for many food & beverage makers as it provides a sweetness level that can largely replicate sugar and that is higher than that of allulose. Both act as strong complements to stevia, and can be coupled to develop optimized sugar replacement solutions for different applications, especially when bulking agents are required. Maltitol, xylitol and sorbitol are additional options to consider, as well. In cases where bulking is not a need, stevia will be your sweetener of choice for formulating keto-friendly products.
Sample Formula: Our New Keto-Friendly Sugar Cookies
As an illustration of sugar reduction in action for keto, we developed a formulation for sugar cookies with our keto-friendly DGS sweetener blends:
No Sugar Added
HOWTIAN DGS Series
If you need help with reformulating for a keto-friendly product or application, HOWTIAN application engineers are available to help meet your challenges. We can assist in developing a customized keto-friendly strategy for your product(s) with cost-effective solutions and reliable supply. Please contact us to learn more.
December 12, 2022 — Food Business News invited HOWTIAN to impart our perspective on the future of sugar reduction, and how sweetener blends provide food manufacturers a versatile toolset to achieve their formulation and reformulation goals. Our conversation with the FBN team was selected and featured in the latest issue of the magazine as its lead cover story, “Blending Sweeteners Brightens Sugar Reduction Outlook.”
As one of our leading experts in formulation, Technical Director Hank Wang discusses the unique ways product developers are successfully blending stevia, monk fruit, allulose and erythritol. The key is to understand how these natural sweeteners best complement each other, and why the different onsets of sweetness for each will help you replicate the taste profile of sugar.
In the interview, we talk about our proprietary stevia blends, DGS Sweet E100 and DGS Sweet F100 Baking, that are 1:1 replacements for sugar. Although the two blends are similar, F100 is better suited for achieving the desired consistency of a traditional baked good:
“Raw dough or batter made with F100 will be slightly stickier and softer, but it holds well with other binding agents. Binding agents help hold all the ingredients in a formulation together so it is not too crumbly, playing a big role in contributing to the texture you know and expect in a baked good.”
Thank you to Food Business News for giving us the opportunity to weigh in on where sugar reduction is evolving for the industry. You can read the full article here. Or if you’d like more insights on how to leverage HOWTIAN’s proprietary stevia blends for your product and application needs, reach out and connect with one of our formulation experts.
November 28, 2022 — In a full-length dedicated interview with Asia Pacific Food Industry Magazine, VP of Market Strategy Tom Fuzer was asked to give HOWTIAN’s perspective on the marketplace for sugar alternatives, what’s driving the continued rise of diabetes globally, and shifting consumer preferences around “clean labels.”
“In addition to a clean label, today’s consumers are also scrutinising product manufacturers’ supply chains and sourcing practices to understand the environmental footprints of the products they purchase… As the world’s largest manufacturer of natural stevia, HOWTIAN has just recently completed a key agricultural science project that delivered the highest ever steviol glycoside (the sweet component of the stevia leaf) yield per hectare, thus further improving its already favourable environmental measures.”
For the story, HOWTIAN also addresses current economic challenges as inflation spirals and consumers are becoming more and more cost-conscious. With companies increasingly tasked to find more affordable sugar alternatives, HOWTIAN continues to improve its manufacturing output, and in turn, product costs — where the cost-in-use of our stevia is starting to reach parity with that of artificial sweeteners.
We are grateful for the opportunity to share our expertise and understanding of the challenges food & beverage companies face in this shift towards natural sweeteners. Thanks to the APFI team!
The Fi (Food Ingredients) Europe expo is one of Europe’s largest annual gatherings of leading food & beverage suppliers, buyers, and R&D experts with a history of more than 35 years. This year’s show will be in Paris and the theme will be to drive industry dialogue on how “Food Moves Forward.” With over 1,000 exhibitors, 20,000+ attendees and 135+ countries represented, the stage is set to discover thousands of innovative and natural ingredient solutions.
The HOWTIAN team will be in attendance at Fi Europe, exhibiting our newest formulation demos, innovative health ingredients, and latest sugar reduction technologies — featuring ingredients such as stevia, inositol and pyrroloquinoline quinone.
If you’ll be in Paris, be sure to visit us at our exhibition stand 7.2J52. There, you can speak with our HOWTIAN representatives about how we’re building a sustainable “food future” with every harvest. We’re excited to showcase our solutions and help food & beverage manufacturers reimagine their own formulas naturally.
October 27, 2022 — HOWTIAN was recently invited to provide an insider perspective on its announcement of achieving a record-breaking 12% Reb A yield. VP of Market Strategy Tom Fuzer goes more in depth on the significance of the milestone and the company’s vision for the future of sugar reduction in a feature piece with New Food Magazine.
The article highlights Project Shennong, a decade-long endeavor built on HOWTIAN’s ambition of a healthier lifestyle for all, regardless of economic means. The work of Project Shennong has resulted in significant strides for the food and beverage industry, and this latest achievement has brought the cost of stevia closer to parity with artificial sweeteners than ever before, all without compromising the natural core of stevia.
In the conversation, Fuzer explains that the cost of stevia is always top of mind for product developers and formulators in the food and beverage manufacturing industry, especially when compared to the cost of artificial sugar substitutes like aspartame. In light of this, some suppliers have pursued alternative methods of manufacturing stevia, including fermentation technologies.
While some of these methods may manufacture sweeteners that may be chemically the same as stevia, Fuzer points out…
“It no longer delivers what consumers actually prefer stevia for – its naturalness. Project Shennong proves that by investing in breeding technologies and developing stevia variants with exceptionally high Reb A content, you can still achieve cost targets without sacrificing what stevia is all about.”
The interview continues to discuss how demand for all-natural stevia is on the rise as consumers seek out products with “clean labels.” Fittingly, this new milestone is but the latest sign of HOWTIAN’s commitment to clean, sustainable sugar reduction with simple, natural ingredients.
HOWTIAN is proud to be at the forefront of the industry, and we thank New Food Magazine for the platform to share this exciting news.
Exhibition Dates: 2-3 November 2022 Exhibition Location: Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada
Booth No. 7111
SupplySide West 2022 is one of the year’s biggest shows for the food & nutrition industry’s leading experts and professionals. The HOWTIAN team will be exhibiting with demos of our latest innovations and prototypes using natural sugar substitutes. If you’ll be in Las Vegas, stop by Booth 7111 to sample our sugar-free PQQ gummies, mango tea with PQQ in 2 sugar-reduced varieties, nougats, and reduced sugar cake pops in red velvet and pumpkin cheesecake flavors.
We’re excited to present our product on one of the industry’s biggest stages, and help food & beverage manufacturers brainstorm new, natural formulas their consumers will reach for guilt-free. If you’re interested in receiving more information on these formulas, please contact one of our representatives.