Following EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) safety approval of steviol glycosides for food use in April 2010, EU legalisation of stevia is expected shortly, with Truvia well-placed to capitalise given strong US sales to date.
ACNielsen figures estimate the value of the US (population 300m) market for low calorie sweeteners at $685m, with Truvia the third best-selling non-sugar sweetener over the last 12 months. Meanwhile the UK (population 60m) market for low calorie sweeteners is worth £60m, which given the countries' respective population sizes suggests positive growth potential.
Several year partnership
Tony Lucas, marketing director, Silver Spoon (part of Associated British Foods) told FoodNavigator.com the deal was “for the long term, over several years”, where it will see his firm market a co-branded Truvia product with Cargill, using its UK distribution network to supply supermarkets, restaurants, hotels and other outlets.
Lucas said Silver Spoon predicted an 18-20% growth opportunity for Truvia in the UK sweeteners market: “We know sweeteners from natural sources are hugely appealing, generally attracting more consumers,” he said, adding that Silver Spoon hoped that shoppers currently not active in the category would also buy Truvia.
Ray Merrick from Silver Spoon said the firm was impressed by Truvia's US sales:“Two major players will jointly market a proven product: it’s a significant opportunity for us at Silverspoon in a proven category.”
Moreover, Silver Spoon was not worried that Truvia might eat into its existing tabletop sweetener market share, Lucas said, despite current branded offerings such as Sweetness & Light (with aspartame, ACE-K) and Sucron (with sodium saccharin).
“We’re extending consumer choice, and Silver Spoon wants to offer every conceivable solution for consumers. It’s all about growth, and we see this is a great business opportunity,” he said.
Premium UK offering
Last September Zana McFerson, assistant VP of health and nutrition at Cargill told this publication that price was no barrier for Truvia uptake amongst consumers, given a US price of $3.99 for a 40-count box.
Quizzed yesterday about UK launch price points, she said: “We still have research to do in the UK, but are looking at marketing it as a premium product for health conscious consumers keen on a zero-calorie offering.”
Jim May, the founder of Wisdom Natural Brands – which markets a range of whole leaf stevia products – said last year that food manufacturers were “disappointed” by stevia-based sweeteners from major ingredient firms, given the use of chemical masks to remove the flavour of solvents/alcohols used to isolate plant steviol glycosides.
Asked about progress with EU food manufacturers on formulating Truvia into foods, and for her reaction to May’s comments, McFerson said: “We have another business dealing with formulation, but by way of background, water-only extraction methods are used across the industry, so that’s not necessarily a distinction one can make.”
As for French roll-out of Truvia tabletop – prior to its EU-wide launch – pencilled in for Q1 of 2011? “Preparation for the launch is in progress, we’re finalising the details and it should happen very soon,” said McFerson.