Natur Research Ingredients has announced plans for Cweet (3000x) Natural Intense Sweetener, which it says is 3,000 times sweeter by weight than sucrose, to be available by 2010. However, in the US, this will depend on approval for GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status which the company is preparing to submit to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Cweet is derived from brazzein, a sweet fruit found in West Africa. It is similar to sucrose and is expected to have widespread use in products including chewing gum, sports drinks and candy, according to Loren Miles, CEO of Natur Research Ingredients, which is based in Los Angeles. He said: "We think that the market is hungry for sweetener alternatives - that is the consistent message we have been receiving from food and beverage manufacturers globally. "Our natural intense sweetener will give the food and beverage manufacturer an alternative to the other sweeteners out there, such as sucralose, aspartame, HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), stevia and Ace-K. "In the artificial high intense sweetener category you have a lot of aspartame blended with Ace-K in order to achieve a sucrose-like blend. We are pretty confident that will not be necessary with our ingredient. "We feel they have the potential of being worldwide and a very serious player in the high intense sweetener category." Natur Research Ingredients, a privately held concern, obtained the exclusive worldwide license in 2007 from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) to manufacture and distribute Cweet Natural Intense Sweetener. The new product follows on from Cweet (1,000x), launched in November, which is 1,000 times sweeter than cane sugar by weight. This is currently going through the GRAS process. It is expected to be commercially available in 2009 and samples are being sent out to food and beverage manufacturer to test the product. Cweet 3000 is expected to be more desirable in beverage applications than Cweet 1000. Natur Research is currently in discussions with global food and beverage brands for the exclusive rights to use Cweet within their product category for the first 2-years from availability. It is also exploring strategic partnerships with global food raw material manufacturers and distributors to establish a supportive infrastructure for supply and demand for Cweet worldwide. Stevia Stevia is also a natural sweetener but under current US regulations it cannot be sold as a sweetener, although it has approval on the US market as a dietary supplement. This month Arizona-based Wisdom Natural Brands announced it had self-affirmed its version of stevia - Sweet Leaf - as being GRAS and the ingredient would be available in a soda or food product by the year's end. In the meantime it would be available at retail level as a table-top sweetener that would be labeled as such and not a dietary supplement. Coca-Cola and Cargill also recently published science backing their ingredient Truvia, which is derived from stevia. They have yet to bring it to market but a launch looks imminent. Natur Research said its GRAS strategy was for both self-affirmed and full GRAS status. Sweetener market A recent report by Freedonia revealed that the US sweetener market alone is poised to increase 4 percent per year at present, to reach over $1bn in 2010. Low-calorie sweeteners are used to meet consumers' desire for sweet treats whilst delivering less calories. This strategy has become especially important given the food industry's efforts to help curb the current obesity crisis and the market is also increasingly seeking 'natural' foods. Natur Research Ingredients said market trends show that mass food and beverage manufacturers are seeking to reduce or replace sugar and HFCS usage. It claims that Cweet (3000x) will address the global market demand for a natural intense sweetener with a sucrose-like taste profile, while reducing caloric, glycemic loads and remaining cost effective. Miles added: "We think it is most important that it has a sucrose-like profile because regardless of any health benefit, if it doesn't, you are going to have a hard time selling it to the consumer." Its sister company Natur Research Foods already manufactures and distributes low intensity all-natural sweeteners for both the commercial and consumer sectors.