Keeping Life Sweet, Sustainable, & Calorie-Free

News November 9, 2020


As the holidays approach, it can be difficult to stay away from sweet temptations. Sugar not only expands the waistline; consuming sugar can create unhealthy spikes in blood sugar levels in those with diabetes.


The average American consumes around 17 teaspoons (71.24) grams of sugar daily. If that doesn’t sound like a lot, think of it this way, that’s equal to about 57 pounds a year. And according to US health guides, that’s almost three times the recommended dietary limit. In addition, research has shown that sugar has a drug-like effect on the brain, which is why the more you consume, the more you crave.


As November is also Diabetes Awareness Month, we’re looking at one way to avoid the overconsumption of sugary snacks: sweetener alternatives. Though the issue with sweeteners is that they’re difficult to bake with, don’t always taste great and may not be so healthy for you.


At Amyris we made it our mission to find a sugar alternative that people would actually want to eat, and like everything else we make, be healthy and sustainable for the planet. We turned to the super sweet molecules naturally found in stevia leaves, focusing on one in particular, rebaudioside M (Reb M). This intensely sweet molecule has a complex molecular structure that gives it a taste profile that mimics sugar. The challenge has been that it is present in low concentrations (less than 0.1%) in the stevia plant and is exceptionally difficult to isolate to extract.


Because of this, most stevia products on the market contain rebaudioside A (Reb A), which has the same sweetness intensity as Reb M, though has a bitter aftertaste. Another concern with traditional sugars and sweetener alternatives is that they are often dependent on petroleum-based manufacturing or bleaching agents.


Our Reb M is developed from sugarcane. But how can something that comes from sugar have no calories? It comes down to the technology that Amyris is famous for, fermenting sugarcane with genetically modified yeast to create a desired end result. Our scientists tested thousands of yeast strains until they were able to replicate the rare Reb M molecule, creating a sustainable, affordable and delicious sweetener alternative that doesn’t leave your tastebuds feeling bitter and unsatisfied.


To get this new sweetener into the hands of everyone who needs it, we first sold RealSweet™ Sugarcane Reb M to health-conscious companies like Shaklee Corporation to use in their products. Then we realized that to make an even greater impact, the sweetener should be available to consumers to use at home. Enter the Amyris brand Purecane,™ the first no-calorie sweetener with Sugarcane Reb M that can be used in place of sugar in baked goods and deserts of all kinds, and easily dissolves into drinks like coffee, tea or cocktails.


In addition to being better for our waistlines, our Reb M and Purecane™ are good for the planet. As previously mentioned, our Reb M molecule is created from sugarcane, a rapidly renewable resource. We work with a sugarcane plantation in Brazil that supports the circular economy by using the sugarcane processing waste, known as bagasse, to co-generate electricity to power the plant. They also utilize the sugarcane byproduct called vinasse as fertilizer to enrich the sugarcane fields. And our Reb M production supports biodiversity by using 1/10th the agricultural acreage of other leading, natural leaf products. 


Although this is definitely going to be a different holiday season than like years past, you can now bake your cake and eat it too. Remember Purecane™ whenever you want a little more worry-free sweetness in life.


Learn more about RealSweet™ Sugarcane Reb M:

Learn about Purecane™