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Why you should sweeten with Reb M

Have you not tried reb M? Then it's about time. Get ready for a whole new experience. The flavour is pure, clean and similar to sugar. The advantage is that it can be used in food and beverages without the necessity for the addition of ingredients to mask aftertaste. We are talking about an exclusive little steviol glycoside. It is found only in low concentrations in Stevia leaves. Curious? Read on.

28 October 2019 •

In just a decade, ste­vi­ol gly­co­sides, the sweet sub­stances of the plant ste­via (Stevia rebau­di­ana), have made great progress in the world. Globally, the num­ber of food and bev­er­age prod­ucts sweet­ened with ste­vi­ol gly­co­sides is esti­mat­ed to soon exceed 16,000 prod­ucts.

Cravings for steviol glycosides

The use of ste­vi­ol gly­co­sides is an increas­ing trend. This high inten­si­ty sweet­en­er, of nat­ur­al ori­gin, is grab­bing mar­ket share from oth­er high-inten­si­ty sweet­en­ers such as aspar­tame, ace­sul­fame K and sucralose.

The rea­son behind the grow­ing use of ste­vi­ol gly­co­sides is that the num­ber of health-con­scious con­sumers is increas­ing. Consumers want sweet­ened foods and bev­er­ages, but strive for low­er calo­rie con­tent and ingre­di­ents of nat­ur­al ori­gin. GMO-free raw mate­ri­als is also high on the require­ment list.

And the taste?

This is where the exclu­sive ste­vi­ol gly­co­side Reb M enters the scene. It doesn’t com­pro­mise with the taste.

The search for the perfect steviol glycoside

Among the first ste­vi­ol gly­co­sides approved by the EU in 2011, ste­vio­side was the pio­neer of ste­via-based sweet­en­ers. Stevioside was first because it is the most com­mon ste­vi­ol gly­co­side in ste­via leaves. But it has a bit­ter taste and a licorice-like after­taste.

But then the researchers dis­cov­ered ste­via plants that dif­fered from the crowd. They had a high­er pro­por­tion of the ste­vi­ol gly­co­side rebau­dio­side A, which tastes bet­ter than ste­vio­side and is also twice as sweet. That opened com­mer­cial oppor­tu­ni­ties for Reb A, which is today the most wide­ly used ste­vi­ol gly­co­side.

Since Reb A is sweet­er and tastes bet­ter, it is eas­i­er to use. In addi­tion, there are meth­ods to mask the remain­ing bit­ter­ness, as well as the licorice-like after­taste.

Reb A was a major step for­ward for ste­vi­ol gly­co­sides as a sweet­en­er. But it was soon dis­cov­ered that the purest forms of Reb A do not always taste the best. The pres­ence of oth­er ste­vi­ol gly­co­sides has a ben­e­fi­cial effect on the taste. That real­iza­tion was the begin­ning of a search for the oth­ers.

Reb M the new star

The researchers dis­cov­ered the ste­vi­ol gly­co­side rebau­dio­side M (Reb M). It has a unique flavour pro­file that is very close to sug­ar, and with­out the bit­ter­ness and licorice taste of its pre­de­ces­sors.

Scientists have known Reb M for a while, but it is only now, after it was approved by EU in 2017, its star has been lit in the sky of the food indus­try.

Reb M is a ste­vi­ol gly­co­side with a unique flavour pro­file that allows it to stand on its own, with­out the addi­tion of ingre­di­ents that mask unwant­ed off-taste or after­taste.

Reb M has more glucose units linked to steviol

Steviol gly­co­sides are the sweet com­po­nents of the Stevia leaves. They are com­posed of a ste­vi­ol unit, linked to a vary­ing num­ber of glu­cose units. For exam­ple, the most com­mon ste­vi­ol gly­co­side ste­vio­side, has three glu­cose units, and Reb A has four.

Reb M has a total of six glu­cose units. The high num­ber of glu­cose units is part of the expla­na­tion for Reb M’s good taste. Research has indi­cat­ed that the more glu­cose units present, the high­er the sweet­ness and the low­er the bit­ter­ness of the ste­vi­ol gly­co­side.

Reb A on the left con­sists of ste­vi­ol linked to four glu­cose moi­eties. Reb M on the right con­sists of ste­vi­ol linked to six glu­cose moi­eties. Source: PubChem.

Low concentration in stevia leaves

Steviol gly­co­sideProportion of dry mat­ter
Rebaudioside A2–5%
Rebaudioside C,1%
Dulcoside A0.5%
Rebaudioside D0.2%
Rebaudioside E0.2%
Rebaudioside F0.2%
Rebaudioside M0.1%

But how low is the con­cen­tra­tion of Reb M in ste­via leaves? The Reb M con­tent in dry leaf is esti­mat­ed to be less than 0.1% by weight.

To give an even clear­er pic­ture of how small the fac­tion is, a study pub­lished in the jour­nal Foods can help illus­trate the whole thing. The report describes how 2.2 kilos of Stevia leaf was processed result­ing in 98 per­cent pure ste­vi­ol gly­co­sides. Of the extract­ed ste­vi­ol gly­co­sides, only 1.1 grams was Reb M.

Tastes like sugar

The low con­cen­tra­tion makes Reb M part of an extreme­ly exclu­sive group of ste­vi­ol gly­co­sides, and there­fore belongs to an upper price range. But it has sev­er­al advan­tages that make it attrac­tive in prod­uct devel­op­ment.

Reb M has a sweet­ness sim­i­lar to sug­ar. The flavour is described as pure and sweet, pleas­ant and enjoy­able. It does not have a pro­longed after­taste or oth­er off-tastes, such as metal­lic or liquorice-like after­taste.

Sensory analy­sis clear­ly show the dif­fer­ence between reb A and reb M. Reb M has a sweet taste pro­file, with hard­ly any bit­ter­ness. Source: Ingredient.

Reb M can dance solo

Steviol gly­co­sides are very sweet — 250 to 350 times sweet­er than sug­ar. Therefore, a few grams here or there makes a big dif­fer­ence. But not pri­mar­i­ly when it comes to sweet­ness, which flat­tens out with increased amount (unlike sug­ar), but when it comes to the unwant­ed fla­vors. Here, Reb M has anoth­er advan­tage over Reb A.

The use of Reb A gen­er­al­ly requires greater exper­tise, insight and effort, and not sel­dom the involve­ment of oth­er ingre­di­ents that will mask flavours, such as sweet­ness enhancer and flavour mod­u­la­tors. All togeth­er it will damp­en the typ­i­cal after­tastes and high­light the sweet­ness.

The unique flavour pro­file of Reb M allows it to be used as a pure ste­vi­ol gly­co­side with­out mask­ing ingre­di­ents, in a vari­ety of prod­ucts. Therefore Reb M can be valu­able as a sin­gle sweet­en­er in some prod­ucts. If bulk is need­ed, Reb M can be mixed with oth­er sweet­en­ers as part of a com­plete sweet­en­ing solu­tion.

The cher­ry on top, prod­uct tests show that Reb M can be used in low­er dosages. And a low dosage nat­u­ral­ly gives greater influ­ence and con­trol on the price.

Curious about Reb M?

Reb M is avail­able in the Bayn Europe range since spring of 2019, and is offered under the brand Navia, with 80 and 95 per­cent puri­ty.

Do not hes­i­tate to con­tact us if you want to try or dis­cuss the pos­si­bil­i­ties with reb M. We are hap­py to answer any ques­tions. You can reach us by phone num­ber +46 8 613 28 88, or if you pre­fer by email: info@​bayn.​se.

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