GLG Life Tech has said it has signed a memorandum of understanding with India-based Global AgriSystem Private Limited, a Katra Group company, to pursue the commercialization of stevia sweeteners in India. The process would include a push to develop the market for stevia-derived sweeteners in India and agricultural development of growing regions for stevia plants. The companies said they are also considering constructing joint extraction facilities in India as demand builds.
Chairman of Global Agri Gokul Patnaik said: "India needs value added agri products like stevia that provide solutions to meet the local demand gap for sweeteners. India's agriculture base can easily adapt and handle the growing of the stevia plant, given its conducive climatic conditions."
Stevia-derived sweeteners have boomed in popularity since December 2008, when the US Food and Drug Administration said the stevia-derived sweetener Reb A was generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for use in foods and beverages. The United States is currently the largest market for the zero-calorie sweetener, but GLG Life Tech has said that India – with its population of 1.14bn, growing rates of obesity and the world’s highest number of diabetics – offers “an untapped market” and a significant opportunity for stevia suppliers.
GLG chairman and CEO Dr. Luke Zhang said: "As the world's leading consumer of sugar and one of the largest markets globally, India holds significant potential for GLG stevia extracts which can aid in the reduction of sugar consumption in the consumer diet. We look forward to working with the Katra Group to continue to develop and build this opportunity together."
Chairman of Katra Group Ramesh Vangal added: "Stevia blends very well with the wellness focus of the group and it is our endeavor to partner with global leaders like GLG to bring cutting edge technologies which can leverage the large agri base of India to provide consumers with a natural and healthy alternative to sugar."