Fermentation may reduce sugar use, costs

Fermentation may be associated with making wine and bread, but lately the technique is being used to make sweeteners less expensive. Specifically, fermentation may lead to new cost-effective steviol glycosides entering the market in 2018.

DSM, Cargill and Ingredion all have entered their own partnerships involving steviol glycosides and fermentation.

Amyris, Inc., an industrial bioscience company based in Emeryville, Calif., said its No Compromise sweetener should begin industrial production in 2018. The zero-calorie, high-intensity sweetener is a rebaudioside/steviol glycoside sourced from non-bioengineered/non-G.M.O. sugar cane, said Peter DeNardo, director, investor relations and corporate communications. It is 200 to 300 times as sweet as sucrose.

DSM, Heerlen, The Netherlands, on May 8 made an equity investment in Amyris of $25 million, which translated into a shareholding of about 12%. After the first tranche closed on May 11, DSM had the option to invest an additional $25 million in Amyris within 90 days.

The two companies also entered into a development cooperation focused on products for the global health and nutrition markets, including vitamins and other nutritional ingredients.

“Amyris has a unique yeast-based strain engineering platform that is very complementary to DSM’s capabilities in this area and will create great synergy with DSM’s know-how in fermentation, downstream process development and large-scale manufacturing,” said Chris Goppelsroeder, president and chief executive officer of DSM Nutritional Products. “Working closely together with Amyris and leveraging DSM’s route to market will accelerate our innovation toward cost-effective, fermentation-based processes for both existing and new products.”

For its fermentation venture, Minneapolis-based Cargill is partnering with Evolva, Reinach, Switzerland. Evolva on May 26, 2016, reported the European Patent Office had granted the company patent No. 2742142 for a technique that converts Rebaudioside A to Rebaudioside D and Rebaudioside M ingredients through fermentation. Evolva discovered the enzymes capable of carrying out the steps in the Reb A and Reb D biosynthesis pathways, which enabled the production of the steviol glycosides through bioprocessing.

Cargill and Evolva have entered an agreement to produce and commercialize the sweeteners under the EverSweet name, which is scheduled for a 2018 launch. A fermentation process involving baker’s yeast creates EverSweet, which has high levels of the sweet-tasting steviol glycosides Rebaudioside M and Rebaudioside D. The fermentation process creates Reb M and Reb D in a more cost-effective and sustainable way than extracting them from the stevia leaf, according to Cargill.

Ingredion, Inc., Westchester, Ill., last December entered an agreement with SweeGen, Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., to become the exclusive global distributor of SweeGen’s sweeteners in all markets except China. Ingredion will be a non-exclusive distributor in China.

Sweegen offers Bestevia Reb-M 95% and Bestevia Reb-D 95%. Sweegen starts with the stevia leaf and then uses a proprietary production pathway to create the Reb M sweetener.

Fermentation already is used in the production of another sweetener — erythritol, a polyol.