Nominated by: DSM
Organisation in nomination: DSM, Cargill
Most people consume too many calories that originate from sugar, increasing the risk of being overweight or developing obesity, both of which in turn are risk-factors for non-communicable diseases including diabetes, cardio-vascular disease and cancers.
Science has been searching for sugar alternatives for many decades, and biotechnology has built upon the discovery of Stevia, a natural sweetener first extracted from the leaves of Stevia rebaudiana. Stevia leaves have been used for more than 1500 years in its native Brazil and Paraguay and used as a sweetener in countries such as Japan since the early 1970s. However, Stevia plants are a scarce resource, risking extinction in the wild. In addition, the sweetest components, rebaudioside M and D, are present in Stevia and its extracts in very low quantities. Thus, alternative methods of production have long been sought.
Companies have worked towards engineering yeast to produce rebaudioside M and D identical to those found in the Stevia plant, and able to do it economically, scaleably, and sustainably.
In 2019, DSM and Cargill joined forces to form the joint venture Avansya and launched large-scale manufacturing of its EVERSWEET™ sweetener, using the yeast strain Yarrowia lipolytica. Development work resulted in high productivity, consistent quality, economic viability and significant reduced environmental impact compared to traditional extraction or bio-conversion.
The EVERSWEET™ sweetener experienced rapid commercial take-up for use in food products, including drinks, dairy, cereals and bars, plus baking and alcoholic drinks.
Regulatory dossiers have now been approved in US, Mexico, Canada and a number of countries in Asia, and regulatory approval is awaited in Europe as well as other territories as part of global market access, for a significant advance in biotechnology-derived healthier food and drinks with reduced environmental footprint. This strongly meets societal and health demands for a non-artificial, zero calorie, sustainably produced sweetener at a cost that is competitive to sugar within industrial scale production.
Life Cycle Analysis of EVERSWEETTM compared to alternatives, demonstrated a 59% reduction in carbon footprint, 70% reduction in land use and 49% reduction in depletion of resources.