HOWTIAN has succeeded in harvesting the stevia industry’s highest ever Reb A yield

HOWTIAN has succeeded in harvesting the stevia industry’s highest ever Reb A yield

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.

HOWTIAN Interview in ConfectioneryNews: How Natural Sweeteners Became a Gamechanger

HOWTIAN Interview in ConfectioneryNews: How Natural Sweeteners Became a Gamechanger

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.

Read the full article here.

Formulating with Stevia in Candy and Confections

Formulating with Stevia in Candy and Confections

As health concerns mount over children’s diets and their sugar intake, stevia is taking a lead role in sugar reduction efforts for confectionery products

Sugary products can have an irresistible charm with children, but rising trends in tooth decay, weight gain, and chronic metabolic diseases such as diabetes have been alarming many parents and consumers. So it’s no surprise that food manufacturers have been looking at ways to reduce sugar in candies and snack foods marketed towards children. In addition, the issue has certainly caught the attention of policymakers, who have proposed regulations such as restricting the sale of sugary drinks and snacks in primary and secondary schools as well as other childcare institutions. Similarly, canteens and cafeterias are implementing measures to reduce the amount of sugar in lunches and meals provided by schools.

Reducing sugar is a top concern for consumers

The concerns around children’s diets is part of a larger trend — consumers of all ages are taking greater care with managing sugar in their diets. This need for health-promoting ingredients and nutritional foods is changing the face of product innovation for the confectionery industry in particular. In recent years, many of the newest product launches in confections have embraced the use of sugar substitutes such as stevia. As confectionery manufacturers are pressured and compelled to innovate, they’re finding however that reducing the need for added sugars in such products can come with some formulation challenges.

The challenge of reducing sugar in candy

When reformulating a candy product for sugar reduction, the two most important considerations are replicating the sweetness profile of sugar and bulking the candy back to its original size. For both these considerations, the use of sugar substitutes is needed. Natural plant sources, such as stevia and monk fruit, or artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, acesulfame potassium, or sucralose, can be used. Common bulking agents that are used with plant-based sources include erythritol, allulose, fiber, and maltodextrin. Artificial bulking agents include maltitol, xylitol, sorbitol, and polydextrose. Among such a wide array of sweetener options, stevia has garnered significant attention because it is natural, has zero calories, and can be 200 – 450 times sweeter than sugar. As a result, more and more candy products containing stevia have been launching in the marketplace.

In addition to replicating sweetness levels, a common challenge with reducing sugar in confectionery is retaining the texture, flavor, taste, and other properties of the candy’s formula. For example, in a traditional gummy candy, sugar plays a number of roles beyond its sweetness. It increases the volume of the candy, creates a soft texture, and also positively affects the chew time of the candy. If you merely replace the sugar content, many of the qualities of that candy would change with it.

Case Study: Formulating with stevia in a nougat

Recently, HOWTIAN’s comprehensive sugar reduction program with stevia helped Zero Sense Labs successfully launch a sugar-free nougat series of candies. This nougat comes in 4 flavors — matcha, date, sesame, and strawberry.

Ingredients: Maltitol, freeze-dried strawberry granules, whole milk powder, strawberry powder, inulin, butter, egg white, stevia extract
Image is copyrighted by Zero Sense Labs

The nougats carry a product label with low calorie, no added sugar, and low glycemic index claims. The candy line was able to achieve these claims by utilizing our SoPure Stevia specialty blend called Pegasus II, which contains minor glycosides that taste better than typical Reb A (see our previous edition of Formulas For Success to learn more about formulating with our SoPure Stevia specialty blends). To complement and supplement stevia in the formula, additional sweetness and bulking is provided by maltitol and inulin. This combination provides the texture and chewiness that is typically desired in a nougat.

Formulating with Maltitol

Maltitol is one of the most commonly used sugar alcohols in food and is about 70% as sweet as sugar. It has about half the calories of sugar and provides many similar properties. Since some maltitol is digested, the gastrointestinal effect isn’t as extreme when compared to other sugar alcohols. An average person may be okay with up to 40g in a serving before experiencing digestive discomfort. It is, however, produced by the hydrogenation of starch, which would then be considered an artificial sweetener.

Formulating with Inulin

Inulin is a fiber and is about 30% as sweet as sugar. However, inulin is currently in short supply so it may be prudent to ensure you’ve secured a stable supplier before committing to this ingredient in your formulation. The most common form of inulin is made from chicory root and a second is derived from Jerusalem artichoke. Since it is a fiber, ingesting above about 10g in a dose may cause digestive distress. Inulin does provide some browning and helps with digestion, when not consumed at too high of a level. The calories for inulin are about 1.5 per gram, so they are a little lower than maltitol.

Formulating with Trehalose

Before its reformulation, the nougat confection was sweetened using trehalose, which is a rare sugar that is about 25-45% as sweet as sugar. However, trehalose hardens over the shelf life of the product. It can change the chewy and sticky texture you want in a nougat to a more brittle consistency which may cause the candy to crack.

Trehalose is typically produced enzymatically from corn starch and naturally occurs in mushrooms, crustaceans, sunflower seeds, and breads at low levels. It currently counts as a sugar and can be labelled as a natural flavor at low use levels in countries that follow FEMA. For example, in beverages, these use levels can be under 3.5% per the guidance from FEMA 4600.

Trehalose doesn’t brown when baked and is stable at high temperatures and acidic conditions. While it doesn’t work as well in this nougat or a taffy application, it could be utilized used in other candy formulas or many formulas in need of sugar replacement.

Contact Us

If you need help with reformulating for a sugar reduction or replacement, HOWTIAN application engineers are available to help meet your sugar reduction challenges. We can assist in developing a customized sugar reduction strategy for your product(s) with cost-effective solutions and reliable supply. Please contact us to learn more.

The Food & Beverage Innovation Forum (FBIF2022)

The Food & Beverage Innovation Forum (FBIF2022)

Exhibition Dates: 21-23 September 2022 
Exhibition Location: Shenzhen World Exhibition & Convention Center in Shenzhen, China

Booth No. A198

Stop by #FBIF2022 this year to meet the HOWTIAN team and experience our latest product demos.

In addition, Marketing and Sales Director Mavis Ran will be in a panel discussion on the topic of sugar reduction. As a guest panelist, she’ll be providing perspective on how we’re solving for the “Trust Crisis of Sugar Substitutes,” and how natural ingredients can more effectively replace sucrose.

Panel Title: Trust Crisis of Sugar Substitutes — Any Other Natural Substitutes for Sucrose?

Panel Description: Sugar reduction has been a recurring topic. Discussions on sugar substitutes gain popularity. However, consumers’ trust is left shaky by synthetic sweeteners, like acesulfame potassium. As everyone is calling for sugar reduction, what are the natural ingredients that can replace sucrose? Where is the next sweet star?

Panel Moderator: James Que, Vice General Manager, Jelley Brown

Panelist: Mavis Ran, Marketing Director, HOWTIAN Group

For more information on this year’s Food & Beverage Innovation Forum, visit their website.

Shenzhen World Exhibition & Convention Center

The 4th Food Formula Innovation Forum (FFI)

The 4th Food Formula Innovation Forum (FFI)

Exhibition Dates: 14-16 September 2022 
Exhibition Location: Xiamen Haicang Rongxin Huayi Hotel in Xiamen, China

This year’s FFI forum topic will be focused on Function and Delicacy with a theme of “New Raw Materials, New Processes, New Achievements.” HOWTIAN will be a guest speaker at the event delivering a presentation on “Sugar Reduction? Naturally!”

Xiamen Haicang Rongxin Huayi Hotel

HOWTIAN Article in New Food Magazine: Sweetener Industry Trends and New Formulations

HOWTIAN Article in New Food Magazine: Sweetener Industry Trends and New Formulations

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! 🙏

For the full article, read it here.

API China

API China

Exhibition Dates: 27-29 September 2022 
Exhibition Location: Qingdao International Exposition Center in Qingdao, China

Booth No. N4H03

With more than 40 years of history, API (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients) China is the leading exhibition for the pharmaceutical manufacturing sector in China, covering raw materials, ingredients, processing and much more.

  • Founded by China National Medical Control Bureau in 1968
  • Attended by 97% of Top 100 Chinese pharmaceutical enterprises
  • 99% of exhibitors and 90% of visitors have factories that meet the requirements of GMP

To learn more about API China and register for the conference, visit their website here.

Qingdao International Exposition Center

Advancing Sugar Reduction Technologies Summit

Advancing Sugar Reduction Technologies Summit

Exhibition Dates: 20-22 September 2022 
Exhibition Location: voco Chicago Downtown in Chicago, IL

HOWTIAN’s Technical Director Hank Wang will be a guest speaker at the 3rd annual Advancing Sugar Reduction Technologies Summit. He’ll be presenting a special seminar with key insights and techniques for cost optimization when formulating with natural sugar alternatives in food & beverage products.

Seminar Title: Understanding the Cost Around Natural Sugar Alternatives & How These Can Be Reduced For Increased Accessibility & Consumption

  • Date: Wednesday, 21 September 2022
  • Time: 8:10AM CT

Seminar Synopsis

  • Evaluating why the cost of natural sugar alternatives is currently higher than artificial options.
  • Looking at how to reduce high-cost factors in natural sugar product development for lower-cost end products.
  • Assessing the long-term market cost of natural sugar alternatives and its impact on continued consumer accessibility.

The Advancing Sugar Reduction Technologies Summit is two-day event exploring solutions for the industry’s most relevant challenges and innovations. The summit will cover a broad range of topics including natural sugar alternatives, formulation challenges, fermentation and more. It is an opportunity to meet and hear from the thought-leaders in sugar reduction, and learn about the latest innovations in developing tasty, low-cost sugar reduced alternatives for formulating commercially successful food & beverage products.

We invite you to join us in Chicago for the seminar and the event. Click here to learn more and register for the event.

Food Ingredients China 2022

Food Ingredients China 2022

Exhibition Dates: 16-18 August 2022 
Exhibition Location: Canton Fair Complex in Guangzhou, China

Booth No. 42A71

With over 1,560 exhibitors and over 50,000 visitors, Food Ingredients China (FIC) is one of Asia’s largest shows in the food additives and ingredients industry.

Canton Fair Complex Map

Blending Steviol Glycosides for Optimal Sugar Reduction

Blending Steviol Glycosides for Optimal Sugar Reduction

New additions to SoPure™ Specialties collection of stevia blends offers even more options for reducing or replacing sugar

Sometimes using just stevia Reb A or Reb M alone can limit your options when trying to achieve the perfect sugar reduction formula. To expand these options, over the years our formulation experts have developed proprietary blends of steviol glycosides called “Specialties” for a wide variety of sugar reduction applications. This collection of SoPure Specialties includes more classic blends like Andromeda (optimal for moderate sugar reduction), Crest V (ideal for high sugar reduction), and Pinnacle (best for sugar-free applications). To accompany these blends, we’ve recently introduced new additions to the SoPure Specialties collection — Andromeda II, Andromeda III and Pegasus. As with all our SoPure Specialties, these blends feature unique taste profiles and sweetness intensity levels, and can be used individually or stacked on top of traditional stevia formulations. They are particularly handy in addressing common stevia formulation challenges, such as lingering aftertastes or off-notes when sugar reduction levels are high, and optimizing for solubility levels.

Stevia Blends for Higher Solubility

In applications where stevia needs to be concentrated during production, such as with carbonated beverage products, new blends Andromeda III and Pegasus are good options to consider for greater sugar reduction. These SoPure Specialties are made with a unique and proprietary method to attain a 2% solubility in water for at least four months — significantly higher and longer than traditional stevia. In some cases, more typical stevia products may be able to achieve high solubility in the short term, particularly with help of higher temperatures and shear. But once stevia is processed to a highly crystallized state, it tends to want to stay in crystallized form. As a result, over the shelf life of the product, traditional stevia will typically crystallize to the bottom in solution. Our unique processing method for Andromeda III and Pegasus prevents such crystallization and maintains a clear solution over a longer shelf life.

Stevia Blends for Higher Sugar Reduction

Andromeda has always been one of our most popular blends from the SoPure Specialties collection. But for those familiar with Andromeda, you may want to consider the newer Andromeda III for increased sweetness and improved overall taste (at only a marginal increase in cost). Our testing with Andromeda III in water showed that its usage can be increased by as much as 100ppm for additional sweetness. In product applications that include acid (i.e. citric acid, lactic acid), a use level of even 725ppm was acceptable for taste as it cuts off the linger of stevia.

In the case of formulating for entirely sugar-free applications, Pegasus is our recommended blend as the use level is typically higher than Andromeda III and it has a cleaner taste. To help launch Pegasus, we showcased the blend in our product demos and exhibitions at many recent tradeshows — much to our pleasure, it was received with consistent and universal compliments for its clean taste profile.

Stacking Stevia Blends onto Current Stevia Products

Another new addition to our SoPure Specialties portfolio, Andromeda II features a unique blend of glycosides that makes it uniquely compatible for stacking on top of most current stevia products. It is particularly ideal for formulators looking to increase the total sweetness of an existing stevia application. Sweetness curves for individual glycosides start to plateau out at higher usage levels, where more stevia stops producing more sweetness. Andromeda II is optimized to be applied at such usage levels and still increase overall sweetness because it’s comprised of glycosides that aren’t in most of the common blends. As an added bonus, the low cost of Andromeda II makes it a great way to lower a product’s overall cost.

Stacking Stevia Blends with Other Sweeteners for Value

Stacking sweeteners together is a common strategy used by product developers. Many high potency sweeteners have a sweetness curve that looks like the one below. Combining multiple sweeteners provides a great value since it utilizes the steeper part of the curves. The time/intensity profiles are also different for different sweeteners. Since stevia peaks later in the sweetness profile, combining it with a more “upfront” sweetener like corn syrup, erythritol, allulose, or sugar itself can provide a taste profile closer to full sugar. Andromeda II is still stevia so the effects of stacking are less noticeable, but it would bring additional sweet notes to the overall profile.

SoPure Stevia Application Matrix

As a handy guide for our SoPure Stevia customers, we’ve updated our application matrix to include our newest SoPure Specialties. The matrix offers useful instructions on recommended SoPure Stevia products based on application type and starting points for sucrose equivalence (to be replaced with stevia).

Contact Us

HOWTIAN’s formulation experts have decades of product research, development and formulation experience. They can offer insights and assistance for your tailor-made Formulas For Success, as well as provide samples of our SoPure products. Contact us today to learn more.