Sweet Green Fields, which already supplies more than 18 stevia ingredients, will grow the leaves, extract, purify and manufacture the final stevia ingredients in its manufacturing facility in China.
These will now be distributed globally by Tate & Lyle, which will also provide its application laboratories and R&D scientists to accelerate product development and speed up customers’ route-to-market, it said.
“The Sweet Green Fields portfolio gives us the opportunity to add a highly relevant set of stevia ingredients to our sweetener toolbox,” Abigail Storms, vice president of platform management sweeteners at Tate & Lyle, told us.
“This strengthening of our stevia proposition reflects the needs of our customers, based on consumer demands for more natural, sugar-reduced solutions. Our interest is as strong as ever in bringing leading sugar reduction solutions that are highly relevant to consumers – stevia is core to that solution set.”
The partnership comes into effect on 3 April 2017 for a period of three years with automatic renewal.
It will allow Sweet Green Fields to retain a defined list of long-standing strategic customers mainly in the USA, said Shasha Yu, marketing director at Sweet Green Fields.
However both suppliers predicted a global demand for the ingredients.
North America will continue to be the main stevia consuming market, said Yu, but it also sees strong potential in emerging markets like Latin America and Asia as well as regions where “sugar taxes and discriminatory labelling are spreading fast”.
“Natural isn’t a new interest to us,” said Storms, who added that Tate & Lyle’s portfolio includes its own Tasteva stevia sweetener and Purefruit made from natural monk fruit extract.
Monk fruit, also known as luo han guo, is not currently approved for the European Union.
Storms said Tate & Lyle was “aware of the potential technologies in the adjacent stevia space” – that is, fermentation-derived stevia which ‘brews’ the specific sweet tasting molecules – but said it was looking forward to bringing stevia based on leaf extraction to customers.