NutraSweet going sweeter

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NutraSweet Co. in Augusta isn't worried about the new plant-based sweetener that is hitting the mass market later this year.

The Food and Drug Administration in December cleared the way for Coca-Cola and Pepsi to use a new zero-calorie sweetener. Both Pepsi's PureVia and Coke's Truvia use rebiana, an extract from the stevia plant.

NutraSweet President Bill DeFer said the stevia products aren't direct competition for its existing sweeteners. The company is working on its own product, he said, which is currently referred to as NutraSweet Natural with Stevia.

"We're not expecting a lot of impact on our business. The global demand for aspartame continues to increase," Mr. DeFer said.

Stevia, the generic name for a plant that is native to Peru, is cultivated and the family of natural compounds is extracted from plants that are high in stevia, he explained.

"Most of the stevia plants today are cultivated in Asia," Mr. DeFer said.

The product has been used previously in low volumes in packets as sweetener for food items such as coffee.

Cargill has been marketing Truvia packets in stores since May.

"We have spent more than two years validating the consumer demand for this new sweetener," Marcelo Montero, the president of Cargill Health & Nutrition, said in a statement.

The sweetener is 200 times sweeter than sugar. It starts with the stevia plant, a shrub native to Paraguay. The leaves are harvested and dried, then placed in fresh water in a process similar to that of making tea.

NutraSweet also sells packets of sweeteners for consumers, but most of its products are sold as ingredients to food and beverage companies, which add them to their own food products.

When NutraSweet launches its new Stevia product, it will be sold to the food service industry.

The sweetener is being developed at NutraSweet's laboratory in Chicago.

Pepsi announced that it plans to use the sweetener initially in three new SoBe Lifewater flavors. Coke will introduce a line of Sprite with stevia.

Stevia does have its pros and cons, Mr. DeFer said.

"Stevia has its own unique taste profile. Its sweetness has a slow onset. Most people find that it has a bit of a licorice taste," he said.

As a result, stevia will probably be used in blends with other sweeteners. Though it has been used for a while internationally, the market share is still relatively small because of the taste. It's also expensive, Mr. DeFer said.

Reach LaTina Emerson at (706) 823-3227 or latina.emerson@augustachronicle.com.

WHAT IS STEVIA?

Stevia is a new sweetener emerging in the U.S. food industry. The stevia plant, which is native to Peru, is cultivated and the natural compounds are extracted from plant leaves.


A brand called Truvia, which is manufactured by Cargill, is being sold in Publix and Kroger. Truvia is a "natural, zero calorie sweetener made with rebiana, the best tasting part of the stevia plant," according to the product's official Web site.

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treerock
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treerock 01/03/09 - 09:52 am
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grow your own. i have been

grow your own. i have been for many years to avoid all of the unnecessary chemicals used to process the stevia into a white powder. for sweetening liquids, perform a low heat water extraction and strain the greenish-brown mixture. sweeten to taste preference. or crumble the dried leaves and use in recipes. to learn more, investigate. or keep using chemically refined processed white sugar that is predominantly obtained from genetically modified sugar beets. i love the feel of diabetes in the morning...

ANGIE61
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ANGIE61 01/05/09 - 12:57 pm
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well ain't that sweet......

well ain't that sweet......

mable8
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mable8 01/05/09 - 04:09 pm
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Pure cane sugar is a better

Pure cane sugar is a better deal any way you look at it. At least it doesn't cause brain damage like the artificial sweeteners are suspected of causing. I don't allow these artificial sweeteners in my home or buy products that are using these as sweeteners for their products, and will continue to banish them. If you want to maintain your weight, then use moderation of the real deal, not a dangerous substitute.

soldout
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soldout 01/06/09 - 07:47 am
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nutrasweet is a bad product

nutrasweet is a bad product for your body. It has caused some tro believe they have MS when it is just a nutrasweet reaction. You should muscle test any product that you eat and the lab in your body will tell you if it is bad for you. Muscle testing is the best system around and God put it in your body. It probably does 1000's of tests in two seconds and no medical test equipment can touch it for accuracy.

corgimom
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corgimom 01/08/09 - 09:00 pm
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If artificial sweetners cause

If artificial sweetners cause brain damage, then I would've flatlined long ago. I drink lots of Diet Coke everyday- and I got sick long before artificial sweetners were invented. There are people allergic to any substance. And there are people that are allergic to sugar, too.

SandyK2005
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SandyK2005 01/09/09 - 05:31 am
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""Stevia has its own unique

""Stevia has its own unique taste profile. Its sweetness has a slow onset. Most people find that it has a bit of a licorice taste," he said." ---- All those years Coca-Cola made people drink Diet Coke that tasted like TAB, so TAB drinkers were happy. Just when they made Coke Zero, that tastes now more like the Real Thing, they're going back to please those TAB drinkers again. PLEASE NO MORE TAB! It was nasty then, and is nasty now!!!!

iletuknow
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iletuknow 01/13/09 - 05:01 am
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Keep sucking down dem

Keep sucking down dem chemicals and your long term financial planning gets easier and easier!

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