Monk Fruit: How to Formulate With This Popular Natural Sweetener

Monk Fruit: How to Formulate With This Popular Natural Sweetener

Formulas For Success is a monthly educational series from our leading formulation experts that covers the basics and fundamentals of trends in product formulation. Each time we’ll be featuring an emerging ingredient or combination of ingredients and sharing the key tips you’ll need to discover your own formula for success.

Monk fruit, also known as Siraitia grosvenorii or Lo Han Guo, is a natural high-potency sweetener that is 100 – 250 times as sweet as sugar. It’s an ingredient commonly used by food & beverage product manufacturers for sugar reduction and replacement. In such applications, it comes with the added benefit of being labeled as a fruit. When developing a product formulation with monk fruit extract, there are important considerations for formulators to keep in mind.

Benefits of Monk Fruit

In addition to being a zero-calorie sweetener, monk fruit extract is rich in Vitamin C as well as other nutrients that offer a variety of benefits:

  • Kaempferol, a flavonoid with antimicrobial and antioxidant effects
  • Triterpene glycosides, compounds that reduce the growth of tumor cells
  • Antioxidants mogroside I-V which inhibit oxidative damage
  • Cucurbitacins, compounds with anti-inflammatory effects
  • Polysaccharide fibers, which may lower cholesterol levels

The Monk Fruit Market

Among the variety of natural high-potency sweeteners, monk fruit is the second most popular among consumers, ranking behind only stevia. A recent International Food Information Council (IFIC) survey shows consumers are more likely to consume monk fruit over sucralose and other low-calorie options including aspartame, saccharin and more. The market size for monk fruit, estimated at $720M, is expected to steadily widen. Forecasts show a CAGR of 4.8% from 2020 – 2025, according to a recent IndustryARC report.

Consumer preference for monk fruit and stevia vs. other low calorie sweeteners

Monk Fruit Purity Levels

The main sweetener in monk fruit is the antioxidant mogroside V. The typical indicated range of this antioxidant is 10 – 90%. Nascent Health Science’s team of formulation experts continuously experiments with the full range of monk fruit purity levels and have found that the best overall value is most consistently at 40 – 50%. At that range, we’ve found a cleaner taste and higher sweetness than lower purity levels. Monk fruit at very high purity levels may taste slightly cleaner, but it comes at a significantly higher cost. We generally recommend starting with 50% purity as it is the most common level. We have found the maximum use level to be about 175 ppm for monk fruit at 50% purity. Beyond that, you’ll begin to notice too many off-notes, especially in the aftertaste, which some describe as “fruity ginger”.

Note: At the 50% level, monk fruit extract is not always clearly quantified, where different suppliers may have slightly different taste and sweetness profiles. At Nascent, we conduct thorough testing when choosing suppliers and regularly test quality to ensure consistency.

Regulatory Status of Monk Fruit

Monk fruit is currently approved in limited countries, including the US, Canada, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. However, its regulatory approvals are expected to expand globally to the rest of Asia and Latin America, while the EU is also anticipated to approve the extract soon. Monk fruit juice and concentrates are available to those countries that allow the fruit juice in finished products. The concentrate can be labeled as a natural flavor in FEMA-following countries when used below 60 ppm in a beverage. Other application usage limits can be found on the FEMA site.

Formulating With Monk Fruit And Stevia

It is reported in literature that monk fruit has synergy with stevia. However, we have not found significant synergy with the combination at our recommended use levels. We believe the perceived additional sweetness comes from how the sweetness intensity curve is shaped. Like many high-potency sweeteners, the sweetness graphs for stevia and monk fruit are curved and not the straight line you’d see with most bulk sweeteners.

To illustrate this, we use an example formula which originally had 300 ppm of stevia that was replaced with 200 ppm of stevia and 100 ppm of monk fruit. The lowered use level of stevia inherently provides higher sweetness per ppm of stevia as shown in the graph above. The 100 ppm point on the monk fruit is also on the steeper part of its curve. The monk fruit graph depicts mogroside V 50% in acid and has less of a sweetness plateau than stevia. Although the combination in this example does provide a sweetness increase, there appears to be less of a true synergy between the two ingredients and more so instead, they simply complement each other.

Successfully complementing monk fruit with stevia requires an understanding of monk fruit’s sweetness profile. It has a slower sweetness onset compared to most sweeteners, and can thereby prolong the sweetness impact when combined with other sweeteners. Such combinations help to mask the aftertaste you’d otherwise experience from other natural sugar alternatives. When researchers experimented with early formulations using stevia and monk fruit, they were likely using stevia high in stevioside and Reb A, forms of stevia which can produce off-notes at high usage levels. In such scenarios, the addition of monk fruit was sensible in helping to mitigate some of the aftertaste from stevia.

Since those early formulations with monk fruit and stevia, new better-tasting glycosides of stevia have become more widely available and commercialized. The benefits of monk fruit with stevia have diminished in favor of glycosides like Reb D and Reb M. However, there is still an overall sweetness boost benefit if Reb D and M are used at high levels. Monk fruit can be added to products that require high sweetness at a potential lower cost-in-use since the stevia sweetness plateaus at high usage levels (reference the graph below).

Sweetness Profile of Stevia, Monk Fruit and Sucrose

Sample Monk Fruit Application

A demonstration of an application utilizing monk fruit is presented below as mogroside V 50%. In this sugar-free jelly demonstration, the Nascent team replaced sugar utilizing a combination of sugar alcohol, Reb A stevia, and monk fruit.

Ready to create your own formula for success? Partner with us and learn more about formulating in new applications with monk fruit. Contact one of our expert consultants for your product development and formulation needs!

Nascent Bolsters Stevia Supply Amid COVID-19 Global Supply Chain Shortages

Nascent Bolsters Stevia Supply Amid COVID-19 Global Supply Chain Shortages

An upsurge in demand for sugar alternatives, coupled with production and logistical challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, have caused significant supply chain disruptions for ingredients such as steviol glycosides, crystalline allulose, and erythritol. Product shortages have also caused longer lead times and prices have increased, further exacerbating matters for many manufacturers of food and beverage products dependent upon sweetener ingredients.

Here at Nascent, we have been focused on reinforcing the availability of our broad range of ingredients, including all grades of stevia from Reb A through Reb M — in both conventional and certified organic varieties — as well as a complete portfolio of 1:1 sugar replacement solutions. While some ingredient companies and suppliers have struggled with delays and shortages due to the continued fallout from COVID-19, we are pleased to inform customers that we are fully stocked on all stevia extracts, blends and flavors. Our inventory levels remain abundant in all our warehouses across the US, with dozens of metric tons of product available today.

Nascent Stevia Supply in US Warehouses

Nascent’s availability of supply is largely thanks to our continuous R&D efforts with Zhucheng Haotian Pharm Co., Ltd. (ZCHT), the world’s largest manufacturer of natural stevia extracts. Along with manufacturing economies of scale and its abundance of leaf supply, ZCHT couples high-efficiency extraction methods with high-yielding plant varieties to achieve the most economical and sustainable portfolio of targeted glycosides.

In addition to meeting supply shortages in this challenging market, Nascent has continued providing strategic consultation services with our customers on optimal formulation solutions, managing changing costs for ingredients and forecasting consumption trends.

For more information regarding our available ingredients and formulation advisory services, please reach out and connect with the Nascent Health Sciences team.

Stevia + Erythritol = A Sweet Classic

Stevia + Erythritol = A Sweet Classic

Formulas For Success is a monthly educational series from our leading formulation experts that covers the basics and fundamentals of trends in product formulation. Each time we’ll be featuring an emerging ingredient or combination of ingredients and sharing the key tips you’ll need to discover your own formula for success.

Similar to allulose, erythritol is a favorite low-calorie sweetener choice for many food & beverage manufacturers, and is widely used in formulations together with stevia. Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that is naturally occurring in fruits like grapes, peaches, pears and watermelons. It can also be found in mushrooms and fermented products such as beer, cheese, sake, soy sauce and wine. The typical process to produce erythritol involves using corn, enzymes, and a fermentation process. Our erythritol is strictly fermented from only non-genetically modified corn to meet the expectations of modern consumers for cleaner labels.

While erythritol is a sugar alcohol, it is distilled and produced in granulated and powdered form to replicate the form of table sugar and increase consumer adoption. When choosing erythritol for product formulation, especially in combination with stevia, it’s important to understand some of its key properties.

Properties of Erythritol

  • “Upfront” sweetener similar to allulose and sugar
  • Provides a sweetness level that is ~67.5% of sugar
  • Provides a sweetness level that is 9% higher than allulose
  • Less expensive compared to allulose
  • Non-caloric in nature (contains almost no calories)
  • Non-glycemic (will not spike blood sugar levels)
  • Heat stable (up to 160 F)
  • GRAS status by FDA
  • Non-carcinogenic
  • Antioxidant properties
  • Non-artificial (fermented) production process

Erythritol is an important tool in the food and beverage formulation arsenal due to its abundance of beneficial qualities. It provides a sweetness level that can largely replicate sugar and that is higher than that of allulose. Its heat-stable property makes it a favorable sugar replacement ingredient in baking applications. It’s non-caloric in nature and provides a path towards usage in keto/diabetic friendly applications. A particularly important consideration for many food & beverage makers is that erythritol is less expensive and more cost-effective than allulose. Finally, it has been granted “Generally Regarded as Safe” status by the United States FDA, permitting food and beverage formulators to utilize this ingredient in a wide variety of sugar reduction applications.

Erythritol Market Trends

In 2019, according to Innova Market Insights, erythritol accounted for 11% of food and beverage launches in US and Canada. It is more commonly used with stevia in North America compared to other sugar alcohols like maltitol and sorbitol, which are considered artificial due to the production process.

Erythritol vs. Other Sweeteners

The gastrointestinal impact of digesting erythritol is less than all other sugar alcohols and allulose, which provides a higher limit for formulation. The table below outlines how it compares to other bulk sweeteners in terms of production source, relative sweetness, calories and dosage limitations:

Bulk sweetener choices comparison table between allulose, erythritol, tagatose, xylitol and sorbitol

Formulation Example: Sugar Cookie Recipe

For demonstration purposes, we designed a test of erythritol vs. allulose in a sugar cookie formulation experiment. We created three batches of sugar cookies with each utilizing the same recipe, but one test version used only erythritol while the other test used only allulose. A traditional recipe utilizing sugar acted as the control for the experiment. All versions of the cookies baked at 350°F on the same tray for 13 minutes and rotated halfway through.

Erythritol vs. Allulose Sugar Cookie Test Results

The experiment yielded significant differences in the baking results. Both erythritol and allulose test cookies spread less than the traditional sugar cookie. The allulose test cookie browned more than the other recipes while the erythritol cookie didn’t show much browning. In our experiment, the two test cookies were 100% sweetened with either erythritol or allulose and both produced less than perfect results. Ultimately, what the demonstration showed was that in a true sugar-replacement scenario, such formulations require adjustments to the formula/recipe and baking process to account for the different properties of erythritol and allulose compared to sugar. We should also note that the levels we used in our experiment below may be above the GRAS levels, whereas a commercial formula would utilize a blend of both sweeteners to achieve a browning effect more similar to sugar.

Erythritol and Allulose Sugar Cookie Recipe (via sallysbakingaddiction.com)

Erythritol and Allulose Sugar Cookie Recipe Table

Erythritol Formulation Solutions

Nascent Health Sciences provides erythritol as a stand-alone ingredient or co-processed with stevia or monkfruit for various applications. Co-processing is vital for powdered applications as separation is likely to occur due to the particle size difference between erythritol and other powdered high-potency sweeteners. They are available as a direct 1:1 replacement for sugar, a 2X version, which is common for tabletop usage, and custom sweetness versions are also available upon request.

To read more about how erythritol complements stevia, visit our erythritol application support page

Need the recipe for the sugar cookie? Or ready to create your own formula for success? If you’re interested in learning more about formulating with erythritol and stevia, contact one of our expert consultants for your product development and formulation needs!

Introducing Formulas For Success

Introducing Formulas For Success

As trusted experts in providing innovative sweetener solutions for food and beverage manufacturers, we work with a lot of companies that share common challenges when it comes to formulation with stevia. Sometimes selecting the right ingredients for a formulation can either make or break a product. More often than not, the knowledge needed to formulate with newer, unfamiliar ingredients like stevia is hard to come by.

The SoPure Stevia team is excited to be launching our new initiative to address these marketplace challenges. Based on our highly successful industry seminars, Formulas For Success is a monthly educational series from our leading formulation experts that covers the basics and fundamentals of trends in product formulation. Each time we’ll be featuring an emerging ingredient or combination of ingredients and sharing the key tips you’ll need to discover your own formula for success.

Stevia + Allulose = The Sweet New Couple

In this inaugural edition of Formulas for Success, we’re highlighting one of the fastest-rising low-calorie sweeteners that everyone is asking about — Allulose. Allulose has quickly gained traction with food and beverage manufacturers due to recent FDA guidance which allows the ingredient to be exempted from total and added sugar counts in nutrition labeling. This makes allulose an ideal sugar substitute for formulators looking to achieve cleaner labels and sugar reduction.

Allulose is about 62% as sweet as sugar and provides a lot of upfront sweetness which means it can act as a great formulation partner to stevia, which has a later onset of sweetness. From our experience, an allulose + stevia combination is particularly effective in formulations where bulking is required, such as baking or confectionery applications. This is due to allulose’s ability to replicate and replace the texture and mouthfeel of sugar.  In baking, we have found allulose to brown faster and spread less than sugar, so it requires some slight adjustments in formulation to reproduce traditional sugar-laden recipes.

Allulose Formulation Considerations

  • Cost is up to 4X the price of sugar and due to its lower sweetness intensity, the cost per unit of sweetness becomes even higher. When combined with stevia, the cost per unit sweetness becomes more manageable, though it may still be more than that of sugar.
  • Allulose is not digested by the body very well and in some cases, may cause gastrointestinal irritation and discomfort. Formulators will need to be mindful on usage when formulating for products with high consumption potentials.
  • Allulose has usage limits for food and beverages, as explained above, and further detailed on our SoPure website here. Supplements can utilize levels above those limits but off-notes may become more apparent when above the suggested usage limits.
  • Our testing with allulose and stevia combinations has revealed that the initial taste of a product tends to be perceived as sweeter but will level off over repeated and continued consumption. Taste adaptation is more noticeable in this combination rather than on their own or when compared to other combinations.

Sample Stevia + Allulose Formulation

To illustrate stevia + allulose in action, we designed a sample formula where we combined allulose with Reb A 99 and our new DGS Flavor TN in a confectionary product.

Stevia + Allulose Sample Formula - Dark Chocolate Morsels

This dark chocolate was exhibited at SSW 2019 and highlights a wide variety of ingredients from the Nascent Health Sciences portfolio including PQQ, Inositol and Vitamin E. The chocolate debuted to rave industry reviews at the event and serves as an excellent demonstration of how stevia and allulose can make an ideal pairing.

Stevia Sugar Free Chocolate Cookie Nutrition Facts

For some more in-depth details on the functionality of allulose, its nutritional information, and other important characteristics of this increasingly popular sweetener, visit our allulose application support page.

Need the recipe for the sugar free dark chocolate morsels? Or ready to create your own formula for success? If you’re interested in learning more about formulating with allulose and stevia, contact one of our expert consultants for your product development and formulation needs!