Markets we serve.
Natural Food Sweeteners.
The Stevia plant was originally called “sweet leaf” by South American indigenous people. The molecules which impact the sweet flavor of this plant are called rebaudiosides (Reb), and there are many different types, which all possess slightly different sweet flavors. It was more recently found that these rebaudiosides are not digestable in a way where calories can be absorbed, leading to its use as a non-caloric sweetener. However, the most abundant Rebs, like Reb A, also impart a somewhat bitter aftertaste, which has slowed adoption of raw stevia extracts as a natural sugar replacement. The sweetest, best tasting Rebs, like Reb M and E, only exist in tiny quantities in the Stevia extract, making purification of them prohibitively expensive.
Through careful enzymatic bio-engineering, Conagen has created the BESTEVIA ® line of commercial Stevia products that offer what consumers want: a more sugar-like taste than original Stevia, with no bitter aftertaste. By leveraging our fermentation processes and synthetic biology expertise, our engineers developed a process where the most abundant Rebs could be converted to the most desirable ones, as pure components. Conagen’s Stevia Rebs have been added to many products of well-known brands and are now sold by our partners in the food, confection, and beverage industries as natural food sweeteners with superior taste profiles and zero calories.
Conagen is continually enhancing its enzymatic bioconversion capabilities to create multiple other pure rebaudiosides from Stevia plant extracts and to develop commercial mixtures of natural non-sugar sweeteners with even better flavor profiles for any custom application.
Sustainable food sweetener development process
Given that our natural food sweeteners are made from trace levels of rebaudiosides, imagine the many thousands of acres of Stevia farmers would have to plant to grow enough in order for us to crush, extract, and purify the trace molecules … and discard the rest. We solve this inefficiency and challenge to sustainability through synthetic biology. Because Conagen’s process needs a much smaller footprint in terms of the sweet leaf plant, it uses much less land with far more yield. The Stevia leaf extract is upgraded and produced on a commercial scale without an excessive waste of natural resources.