In an effort to meet demand for lower-calorie food and beverage options, Avansya—the joint venture between Cargill and Royal DSM—has today started production at the first commercial-scale fermentation facility for stevia sweeteners in the U.S. The facility is producing EverSweet, a zero-calorie stevia sweetener.
The $50 million fermentation facility is located in Blair, NE, and is operated by Cargill. It produces sweet-tasting molecules, such as Reb M and Reb D used to make EverSweet, and gives food and beverage manufacturers a more scalable, sustainable and low cost-in-use solution than if these molecules were extracted from the stevia leaf, the company said. The market for high-intensity sweeteners produced by fermentation is expected to exceed $3 billion by 2025.
Mike Wagner, Cargill managing director and chairman of the board of Avansya, said at the opening: "Building this first-of-its-kind, stevia sweetener fermentation facility on the existing Cargill Blair campus reaffirms our pledge to helping food and beverage manufacturers meet the sharply rising consumer demand for great-tasting, zero-calorie products to meet their dietary needs and goals. It also reaffirms our commitment to strengthening the business community and Nebraska as a biotechnology mecca."
Patrick Niels, president of DSM Food Specialties and Avansya board member, noted, "The need for effective solutions for advanced sugar reduction on a global scale has never been clearer or more urgent. With today's opening, we are showing that, as an industry, we can do more, and faster, to innovate and provide consumers around the world with reduced- and zero-calorie food and beverage products, with no compromise on taste, and so help support good health and well-being in our societies.”
According to the company, EverSweet is well-suited for products like yogurt, chocolate milk, soft drinks, ice cream, cereal, bars and confections. Avansya has commercial volumes available and is already supplying EverSweet to various customers. Further consumer products will launch in the coming months across multiple market segments. Over 300 customer trials and product development projects are currently in progress.
EverSweet is GRAS and FEMA GRAS approved for use in food and beverage products in the U.S. and Mexico and additional regulatory approvals for use in other countries are underway.