Essential Ingredients

Behind the Scenes With Amyris, Our Fermented Sugarcane (Reb-M) Manufacturer

6 min read
Reb-M traditionally refers to a rare, difficult-to-extract molecule found on the sweetest part of the stevia plant. Ritual's supplier, Amyris, developed an innovative approach to replicate it using fermented sugarcane. The result? A sugar-free protein powder that tastes delicious—no stevia involved.
Reb-M traditionally refers to a rare, difficult-to-extract molecule found on the sweetest part of the stevia plant. Ritual's supplier, Amyris, developed an innovative approach to replicate it using fermented sugarcane. The result? A sugar-free protein powder that tastes delicious—no stevia involved.

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When it comes to protein powder, we believe taste matters. No matter how effective or smooth a formula may be, if it’s not delicious, you’ll be less likely to reach for it—and in turn, less likely to reap the benefits of your new habit.

Our Essential Protein combines the best of both worlds: third party-tested (we don’t mess around when it comes to our scientific standards) and oh-so-creamy, it’s got the perfect touch of sweetness—without the sugar† or stevia.

How’d we do it? Allow us to introduce Amyris, our Fermented Sugarcane (Reb-M) supplier.

†Not a reduced calorie food

What is Reb-M, and why is it such a good alternative to sugar?

Reb-M traditionally refers to a rare molecule found on the sweetest part of the stevia plant (more on that later). It’s exceptionally sweet with a taste profile that’s similar to sugar, but approximately 250 times sweeter. Since excess sugar consumption can come with some not-so-stellar consequences, there’s a pressing need for a natural alternative that doesn’t compromise on taste. Unlike conventional stevia, Reb-M has no bitter aftertaste. It’s also zero calorie, non-GMO, vegan, halal, kosher, and gluten free, and can seamlessly accommodate a wide variety of lifestyles.

How does Amyris’ Reb-M differ from traditional stevia sources?

The main point of differentiation is that our Reb-M is a product of fermented sugarcane (typically, Reb M can only be found on the stevia plant). Our unique and innovative approach allows us to replicate the molecule, no stevia plant necessary. Although it's naturally found in stevia leaves, Reb-M is typically only present in extremely low concentrations which makes isolation that much more challenging. Fortunately, thanks to our fermentation process, we’ve been able to scale our production, making pure Reb-M both affordable and accessible. Currently, China is the leading producer of stevia on the market; we produce our Fermented sugarcane (Reb-M) in Brazil at a facility that uses sustainable practices and traceable production methods. Our FSSC 22000-certified manufacturing plant uses advanced fermentation technology to produce Reb-M consistently, at a high purity.

Can you describe your unique fermentation process?

The key to our production is large-scale fermentation. We’ve programmed our yeast to make Reb-M, and our fermentors mimic the same enzymatic steps the plant undergoes during the natural growth process. We are neither constrained by the slow rate of plant growth nor subjected to the variability associated with conventional stevia options.

How does the process starting from sugarcane result in zero grams of sugar and zero calories per serving?

The process of making Reb-M is similar to crafting kombucha or beer. We ferment our sugarcane with specialty yeast, which produces Reb-M—a novel sweetener that, per serving, does not contain any sugar. As for the negligible caloric impact, it all comes down to how the body works: Since Reb-M is not absorbed in the upper gastrointestinal tract, it does not contribute any calories when consumed.*

Can you talk about your harvesting and manufacturing process? What makes Amyris different?

We make our Reb-M using sustainably-grown sugarcane—a key differentiator. Sugarcane Reb-M needs less agricultural acreage compared to other Reb-M products. And despite being many times sweeter than sugar, sugarcane Reb-M production uses less agricultural acreage than traditional sugarcane. Lastly, we are proud members of Bonsucro, a global organization that certifies feedstock to ensure sustainable, ethical production and supply chain transparency from farm to consumer.

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