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PureCircle shores up stevia supplies

By Rod Addy , 26-Jul-2012

PureCircle shores up stevia supplies

PureCircle has diversified its supplies of stevia leaf, enabling it to step up global growth plans and defend its supply chain against future issues.

The international sweeteners firm has secured successful stevia cultivation and sourcing operations in Paraguay, Kenya and the US.

The company said its continuous investment and commitment in these regions over the past few years strategically diversified its supply base. In particular, PureCircle said its Kenya subsidiary would serve as a future hub to supply Europe, the Middle East and Africa and provided ideal growing conditions for proprietary varieties of stevia.

“Across global markets we are seeing steady growth in demand with larger brands launching with stevia,” said Jason Hecker, global vice president of marketing and innovation. “It is essential that they can count on a supply chain with reliable, mass scale stevia supply.

Global leaf supply

“Our investment in strategic regions around the world has prepared us with a global leaf supply that will rapidly scale over time with the needs of our growing customer base.”

PureCircle also claims to encourage positive social development in Kenya by, for example, investing nearly $1m (€824.65m) in microfinancing for farmers. It said its commercial operations in the country provide employment and steady income for 2,200 independent farmers.

The long term development of the three regions has accelerated the implementation of PureCircle’s leaf breeding programme, according to the company. It aims to tailor cultivation of different stevia varieties to the areas most suited to them. This would, in turn, improve the quality of the steviol glycoside extracts derived from the plant for use as sweeteners, it asserted.

Improving processes

In the US, PureCircle said it was focused on progressing stevia agricultural knowledge and improving processes in mass-scale farming techniques for stevia cultivation. The company believes progressing localised production of stevia will be critical for its wide scale adoption and will improve the environmental footprint of its stevia ingredients.

PureCircle’s South American subsidiary began commercial-scale leaf shipments to its extraction facilities in January. It is testing mechanised harvesting technology to improve harvesting efficiency and recycling stevia biomass into organic fertiliser for stevia fields. PureCircle has partnered with Paraguayan farmers to plant more than 36 million seedlings.

“The strategic growth of leaf development supports our long-term vision for a sustainable, consistent supply of high quality stevia that can be scaled and localised to meet growing global market demand,” said Fernando Chilavert, managing director, PureCircle South America.

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