The company estimates that 80% of its stevia planting this year will be of its proprietary non-GMO StarLeaf, which it expects to account for 90% of its stevia production in 2019.
StarLeaf contains 20 times more sweet-tasting steviol glycosides (Reb D, Reb M, and others) than standard stevia, which helps simplify food and beverage formulations since less of the plant-derived sweetener is needed to create a taste close to sugar, according to PureCircle.
Coca-Cola recently tapped PureCircle for its stevia to use in its 'Coca-Cola Stevia No Sugar' soda to be piloted in a market outside the US.
“The story of stevia is evolving. Not long ago, it was a little known, plant-based zero-calorie sweetener – basically one ingredient – that worked well in some beverage and food applications,” PureCircle said.
“Consumer awareness of stevia is growing, and stevia is viewed favorably by consumers, who continue to seek out stevia as their preferred plant-based, zero-calorie sweetener.”
To date, the use of stevia has been approved by the major regulatory agencies across 65 countries for use in food and beverages. Since receiving regulatory approval in the US in 2008, stevia has been used in more than 16,000 food and beverage products worldwide, according to Mintel.
“Products from this leaf are revolutionizing the way our customers work with and adopt stevia. We look forward to providing food and beverage companies access to the most sugar-like content from the leaf, at a scale which has never before been possible,” VP of agricultural operations at PureCircle, James Foxton, said.
Stable stevia supply
To keep up with customer demand for stevia, PureCircle has been expanding its global agricultural supply network including an expansion of its Malaysian stevia extract facility in March 2017 to increase supply and capacity.
Most recently, the stevia producer formed new farming partnerships in North Carolina to establish a stable stevia supply in North America. The agricultural program in North Carolina is with tobacco farmers to repurpose land previously used to grow StarLeaf with the goal dramatically expand “to major commercial production of stevia for next planting season,” PureCircle previously told BeverageDaily.