Givaudan’s taste receptor research could pave way for more stevia products

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 13th February 2009

Givaudan, one of the world’s leading flavours and fragrances companies, has identified a bitter taste receptor which could pave the way for even more stevia products following the approval of the ingredient in countries including Australia and the US last year.


Givaudan has applied for patents related to its discovery of the bitter taste receptor triggered by Rebaudioside-A (also known as Reb-A), the new Stevia-derived ‘natural high intensity sweetener’. Understanding how bitterness is activated in the mouth with Reb-A has enabled Givaudan to discover and develop flavour ingredients that specifically block this mechanism, they advised.

Food and beverage company product developers normally encounter significant taste problems with Reb-A’s lingering and off-notes, with a lingering licorice flavour often noted. Effectively masking these, along with flavour profile enhancement, is key to successful consumer product development of sweetened foods and beverages that contain Reb-A.

“The combination of our masking and enhancing TasteSolutions technology puts Givaudan in the industry leadership position to enable customers to solve these product development challenges,” Mike Size, Givaudan’s global head of beverages, claimed.

Dr Bob Eilerman, Head of Science and Technology for Givaudan Flavours noted that “product developers at food and beverage companies will benefit from this breakthrough ingredient technology to make Reb-A sweetened products taste significantly better than was previously possible. These unique materials are incorporated in flavours designed specifically to work in Reb-A sweetened products.”

Givaudan has utilised advances in taste research, sensory science and receptor-guided ingredient discovery to address the bitterness associated with Reb A. Screening of a diverse chemical library has led to a portfolio of more than 20 new flavour ingredients effective against Reb A bitterness. Over the last two years, Givaudan obtained regulatory approval for six new natural ingredients for intense sweetener taste improvement.

Givaudan reported that their customers have made successful market launches of carbonated soft drinks, iced teas, flavoured waters, juice drinks and sports and functional beverages using this new technology. “Our next generation sweetness solutions are designed to give customers a performance edge in their food and beverage products. This is backed by our continual investment in customizable sweetness enhancement and masking solutions,” Mr Size said.

Stevia has been a major talking point over the past year, with Coca-Cola and Pepsi both releasing drinks with the sugar alternative in December. It is hoped by many in the soft drink industry that stevia, which is up to 200 times sweeter than sugar, could provide a valuable boost to the mature industry.