Sweetener company PureCircle has raised $67.18m through share placing to invest in the development of its natural sweetener products made from stevia leaves.
A company spokesperson told FoodNavigatorUSA.com: “We are delighted that the institutional investment market has decided to make such a substantial investment in the development of our stevia products.”
The money will be invested in sales, marketing and application support, he added.
The company, which supplies sweeteners to beverage giants PepsiCo Inc and Cola Co, predicts significantly rising demand for its stevia products driven by the need to cut sugar intakes, improve sustainability and the desire to help some of the world’s poorest farmers.
“Stevia is resource-hungry at the front end but it has come to the market at right time,” said the spokesman. “Companies are coming under increasing pressure to reduce calories in food and beverages with many US beverage companies intending to reduce sugar consumption by 25 per cent by 2012.”
Also, stevia can be produced far more sustainably than crops yielding sugar and demand for the crop benefits hundreds of thousands of the world’s poorest farmers, he said.
PureCircle has plans to boost its production capacity with a new stevia extraction facility in Paraguay, South America, scheduled to open in early 2011.
The company also expects its clients to launch more stevia-sweetened products next year.
Meanwhile, PureCircle reported last month Mintel research identifying 200 stevia containing product launches over the past year.
Sweetener ready meals
Of the 200 launches, 22 have been in the US, with the remainder, 178, launched throughout the rest of the world. Although most of the new launches have been centered on the high profile beverage market, 40 per cent have been in the snacks, cereals and biscuits segments, with significant activity also in the tabletop sweetener ready meals and dairy/yoghurts categories.
Peter Milsted, director of sales and marketing said: "The 200 product global landmark achieved by the stevia industry is encouraging both in volume and scope. Increasingly we are seeing volume brands lowering sugar calories naturally with stevia and the mainstream conversion from synthetic ingredients is well underway. Most importantly the products that have been launched are performing well and consumer feedback is positive".