Why you should sweeten with Reb M

Have you yet not tried reb M? Then it's time. Expect a whole new experience. The taste is pure and clear and is similar to sugar. The advantage is that it can take place without the help of ingredients that mask off-flavour and aftertaste. But it's an exclusive little steviol glycoside we're talking about. It is only found in low concentrations in stevia's leaves. Curious? Continue to read!

27 March 2020 •

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

Cravings for steviol glycosides

Steviol gly­co­sides con­tin­ue to grow in pop­u­lar­i­ty. The sweet­en­er with the nat­ur­al ori­gin main­ly takes mar­ket shares from oth­er high-inten­si­ty sweet­en­ers such as aspar­tame, ace­sul­fame K and sucralose.

The rea­son for the grow­ing use of ste­vi­ol gly­co­sides is that con­sumers are becom­ing more health-con­scious. Consumers want to feel the sweet taste in food and drink, but they also want few­er calo­ries and ingre­di­ents of nat­ur­al ori­gin.

This is where the exclu­sive ste­vi­ol gly­co­side reb M comes into the pic­ture. This is a sweet­en­er that does not 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. The prob­lem with ste­vio­side is that it has a bit­ter after­taste and a licorice-like aftertaste.

But then the researchers dis­cov­ered ste­via plants that stood out 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 did not always taste the best. It start­ed the hunt for those others.

A new alternative

The researchers dis­cov­ered the ste­vi­ol gly­co­side rebau­dio­side M (reb M). Scientists have known about reb M for a while, but it was only now, after it was approved in the EU in 2017, that it became a real alter­na­tive in the food industry.

Reb M has more glucose units linked to steviol

Steviol gly­co­sides are the sweet com­po­nents of the ste­via plant’s leaves. They con­sist of the sub­stance ste­vi­ol linked by so-called gly­co­side bonds to sev­er­al glu­cose moi­eties. For exam­ple, ste­vio­side has links to three glu­cose moi­eties and reb A to four.

Reb M has a total of six glu­cose moi­eties. The high num­ber of glu­cose moi­eties is part of the expla­na­tion of the good taste of reb M. Studies indi­cate that more glu­cose units pro­duce more sweet­ness and less bitterness.

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 gly­co­side Proportion of dry matter
Stevioside 5–10%
Rebaudioside A 2–5%
Rebaudioside C, 1%
Dulcoside A 0.5%
Rebaudioside D 0.2%
Rebaudioside E 0.2%
Rebaudioside F 0.2%
Steviolbioside 0.1%
Rebaudioside M 0.1%

But how low is the con­cen­tra­tion of reb M in ste­via leaves? In mea­sure­ments, reb M amounts to less than 0.1 per­cent of the leaf’s dry 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 only 1.1 grams of reb M with more than 98% puri­ty was extract­ed from 2.2 kilos of ste­via leaves.

Tastes like sugar

The low con­cen­tra­tion makes reb M an extreme­ly exclu­sive small batch of ste­vi­ol gly­co­sides and is there­fore in the high­er price range.

But is it worth its extra cost?

Yes, and there are two strong reasons.

The first rea­son is that reb M has a sweet­ness sim­i­lar to sug­ar. The taste is described as pure, sweet and pleas­ant. It has a unique taste pro­file but with­out the bit­ter­ness and licorice taste of its predecessors.

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

The sec­ond rea­son why Reb M is worth a high­er price is that it does not require the same lev­el of exper­tise, insights and efforts as for exam­ple reb A.

Why then?

Well, since you do not need to mask any side or after­taste, these resources are not need­ed to the same extent. The need for oth­er ingre­di­ents that mod­u­late and mask taste is not as great.

As a coun­ter­weight to the price pic­ture, prod­uct tests show that reb M can be used in low­er dos­es. And a low dosage nat­u­ral­ly gives greater influ­ence and con­trol over the price.

Curious about reb M?

Reb M is in our assort­ment since spring 2019 and is sold 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 Navia. We are hap­py to answer your ques­tions. You can reach us at tele­phone num­ber +46 8 613 28 88 or send an email to info@​bayn.​se.

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