CHICAGO — Make way, Reb A. Reb M needs room in the zero-calorie sweetener category, and it’s not ready to linger.

Companies such as Tate & Lyle, P.L.C., Ingredion, Inc. and Royal DSM promoted sweeteners with the steviol glycoside Rebaudioside M at IFT18, the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting in Chicago that ends July 18.

 Rebaudioside A sourced from the stevia leaf was the stevia glycoside of choice when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration began allowing stevia extracts in foods and beverages a little more than a decade ago. Reb A, although prominent in the stevia leaf, had issues, such as a lingering aftertaste in reduced sugar beverages.

Reb M offers a taste more like sucrose than Reb A, according to the sweetener suppliers at IFT18. The small amount of Reb M in the stevia leaf has been a cost hurdle for its inclusion in reduced sugar foods and beverages. Efforts are underway to increase Reb M supply and make it more affordable, such as by growing stevia plants with more Reb M content and by producing Reb M through a process that involves fermenting baker’s yeast.

PureCircle, L.L.C., which has a U.S. office in Chicago, now can supply enough Reb M to sweeten about 500 million cases of zero-calorie carbonated soft drinks. Production capacity continues to build, too. Three years from now the company could supply enough Reb M to sweeten 1 billion cases of zero-calorie carbonated soft drinks.

PureCircle has developed a proprietary strain of the stevia plant called Starleaf stevia that contains greater amounts of Reb M than conventional stevia plants. The Starleaf plant may have as much as 20 times more Reb M than a conventional stevia leaf, said Carolyn Clark, director of global marketing for PureCircle.

PureCircle produces Reb M both directly from the Starleaf stevia plant and from other stevia sweeteners in the plant. In the latter case, PureCircle starts with the purified stevia leaf extract with low Reb M content. A proprietary enzyme process completes the maturation to Reb M, just as the leaf does naturally. The maturation goes from Reb A to Reb D to Reb M, Ms. Clark said.

The Reb M produced from the two processes are both from the stevia leaf and are identical in taste.

Tate & Lyle, P.L.C., London, launched the Tasteva M sweetener from the stevia leaf at IFT18. Creating the sweetener starts with the stevia leaf. Then a bio-conversion process and aqueous-only finishing step produces the Reb M. Tasteva M yields a clean sweetness and sweet onset like sucrose without the bitter linger of conventional stevia, according to Tate & Lyle.

“Our bio-conversion process increases Reb M yields, allowing us to produce more volume not limited by plant yields and deliver more from the leaf at an acceptable cost in use,” said Abigail Storms, global vice-president, sweeteners platform leader at Tate & Lyle.

Reb M sweeteners also may involve baker’s yeast instead of the stevia plant.

Royal DSM, Heerlen, The Netherlands, showcased Avansya Reb M at IFT18. Avansya is the brand name for DSM’s line of sustainably produced, non-artificial sweeteners that allow for sugar reduction in a range of foods and beverages. The first product in the range is Avansya Reb M, a calorie-free steviol glycoside with a pure and clean taste, according to the company.

DSM at IFT18 sampled Avansya Reb M in a sweetened yogurt application where the new sweetener enabled a 100% reduction in added sugar. Avansya Reb M, with its sugar-like sweetness, allows producers to achieve a product with no added sugar while maintaining a preferred taste profile in the application, according to DSM.

“With rates of overweight and obesity on the rise globally, the food industry is looking for ways to create healthier versions of the foods and beverages consumers love,” said Luiz Leite, director of DSM’s sugar reduction platform. “We believe that better sweeteners — which taste better, are non-artificial and offer advanced sugar reduction opportunities — will be an important part of the solution.”

Avansya Reb M is a non-artificial sweetener that is identical to Reb M found in the stevia plant. It is produced by fermentation, a natural process that is cost-efficient, sustainable and offers a consistent supply, Mr. Leite said. In the fermentation, a yeast is used to produce the same steviol glycosides that are found in the stevia leaf, he said. Fermentation requires few raw materials, which include glucose, water, and some essential nutrients.

DSM’s patented technology for purifying steviol glycosides from fermentation is completely water-based and solvent-free, which benefits sustainability.

DSM’s Avansya Reb M is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) in the United States and registered for use in Mexico with The Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risk (COFEPRIS). DSM expects to provide commercial quantities of Avansya Reb M to customers in the United States and Mexico in the second half of the year.

Cargill, Minneapolis, this year started producing EverSweet, a zero-calorie sweetener made from Reb M and Reb D. Since the stevia plant produces only trace amounts of Reb M and Reb D, fermentation of baker’s yeast allows for larger quantities of Reb M and Reb D to be produced commercially in a more sustainable way, according to the company.

Ingredion, Inc., Westchester, Ill., at IFT18 launched its Enliten Fusion portfolio featuring sweeteners made with blends of steviol glycosides. Because of the low amount of Reb M in the stevia leaf, Reb M has cost issues, said Eric Shinsato, senior project leader for Ingredion. Ingredion thus uses Reb M in blends, including Enliten Fusion 9200, to cut down on costs. Ingredion initially will focus on beverages with the Enliten Fusion portfolio and then plans to expand into dairy, bakery and confectionery.

Layn, based in China, offers Reb M, which also is found in the company’s SteviUp plant-based sweetener platform that combines various steviol glycosides. Layn, which has a U.S. office in Newport Beach, Calif., has SteviUp products designed specifically for the application categories of beverage, dairy and bakery.