PepsiCo ready for stevia product launches

By Sarah Hills

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Stevia, Food and drug administration

PepsiCo said it is poised to launch two drinks sweetened with stevia in the US as soon as it is given the green light by the FDA over its GRAS status.

The beverage giant has two brands - SoBe Life Water and Trop 50 - ready to hit the market assuming the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sends a letter of no objection for the natural, zero-calorie sweetener to be used in food and beverages.

And more stevia products could be in the pipeline, according to Massimo D’Amore, CEO PepsiCo Americas Beverages.

PepsiCo’s partner, Merisant Company, and Cargill have notified the FDA that rebiana (the common name for high-purity Rebaudioside A from stevia) should be generally recognized as safe, or GRAS, and a response is expected shortly.

D’Amore, said he was confident that the files submitted will receive no objection and added: “The moment the FDA approves it and gives us authorization to launch it under GRAS, we are ready to launch the first three zero-calorie, naturally flavored flavors of SoBe Life Water.

“We are ready to go the moment we get the green light.”

SoBe Life Water has already been launched in Peru and the company is ready to roll it out across Latin America as well. The low-calorie orange juice Trop 50 is also ready for the US market.

A PepsiCo spokesman told that there are no other beverages or foods ready for launch pending GRAS.

However, D’Amore said: “We have R&D researchers which are fully devoted to finding all the best applications for stevaia (Reb-A)… across many of our products and certainly several of our beverages.

“We see a growing importance of Reb-A going forward across beverages.

“We also know there will be no supply issues for Reb-A. Being an agro product there is plenty of land where stevia can be cultivated and we have secured enough supply for our plans certainly for the next few years.”

This summer the company entered into an agreement with the Malaysian firm PureCircle to supply PepsiCo and its partner the Whole Earth Sweetener Company (a subsidiary of Merisant) with Reb-A, under the PureVia brand.

PureCircle also has a contract to supply Cargill, which teamed up with Coca-Cola to develop their own stevia-derived product called Truvia.

GRAS status

Although some in the industry have said they expect an FDA decision on rebiana soon, an FDA spokesman told that there is no specific date for completion of its review.

This is because the GRAS notification program is a voluntary program and FDA does not have a legally mandated timeframe for completing the review of a GRAS notice.

The spokesman said: “Currently, our target duration for completing the review of a GRAS notice is 180 days but may take longer depending on workload and complexity of the case.”

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