Almendra, which is based in Singapore, completed its new plant in Thailand (about 100km east of Bangkok and close to a deep sea port) in October 2012, and is “presently in the commissioning phase”, chief executive Inder Singh told FoodNavigator-USA.
“The plant is dedicated to stevia with the capability to sweeten billions of liters a year of beverages. We would like to be one of the major players of stevia in the world, and therefore are targeting Europe and the Americas.”
We will be able to bring the cost of high purity stevia sweeteners down substantially
He added: “We are also in a stage where we will be able to bring the cost of high purity stevia sweeteners down substantially; we are working on this and initial results have been extremely encouraging.
“We source our stevia from around the globe to ensure we give the best value to our customers. The product, which will labeled ‘Made in Thailand’, provides an alternative to users that have concerns about quality of stevia sourced elsewhere.”
Asked why the firm picked Thailand to build its factory, he said: "Thailand offered the most attractive tax incentives together with one of the best infrastructures that could support our project."
We have the highest purity Reb A in the market place
The site can produce multiple grades of high-purity Reb-A as well as custom blends of steviol glycosides, he said.
“We produce high purity Stevia, Reb A 100, which as a purity exceeding 99.5%, and is typically 99.8%. We also have SG 100 where the total glycosides are above 99.5%. Beyond this, we can tailor make products that have a combination of various glycosides at customers' request.”
He added: “Our purity levels are unmatched in the market place, and with this comes higher sweetness levels. Interference from other glycosides in the taste profile [of our Reb-A products] is non-existent... Unlike other grades of high purity stevia, Only Reb A 100 offers a consistent clean sweet taste."
Almendra's new facility is also fitted with "an ASRS warehousing system, which is computer controlled to ensure high degree of traceability and accuracy of order processing", he said.
The stevia market is taking off
Asked about where Almendra fits into the stevia supply market, he said: “The stevia market is taking off. Many products are being launched, many are still in formulation stage, and most if not all big food companies have a sugar reduction program in place.
“However, finding a substitute to sugar that is natural, low in calories and neutral in controversy is not easy.
“Cost is also another issue. We believe stevia will be able to complement sugar in a great way, not only will it reduce calories, it can also reduce cost when used alongside sugar in a carefully formulated beverage.”
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