PureCircle announced a joint venture (JV) agreement with The Coca-Cola Company on September 28 2012 for the continued joint investigation and development of a “stevia-sweetener product as a commercially viable food ingredient”, apparently Rebaudioside X (Reb X).
This morning, in a short announcement to the London Stock Exchange (LSE), ingredients company Pure Circle said it was “seeking global intellectual property coverage for the ingredient”.
“A detailed safety evaluation has now been conducted by an independent expert panel on high purity Rebaudioside X and has received self-affirmed GRAS status,” PureCircle added.
GRAS notification to FDA
“PureCircle has now elected to formally submit its GRAS notification to the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] for the agency’s additional safety review," the firm said.
Following its September stock exchange announcement, PureCircle told our sister site FoodNavigator-USA.com that the JV and supply deal with Coke would help establish its high-purity stevia as a “mass volume, mass mainstream ingredient”.
Today’s news follows hot on the heels of The Coca-Cola Company’s first launch of a version of its flagship Coke brand sweetened with stevia, Coca-Cola Life, in Argentina.
Last June, Coke also began testing PureCircle stevia-sweetened brand extensions of Sprite and Fanta called Select in the US with 70 calories, where regular Sprite and Fanta have 140 and 160 respectively.
PureCircle chair Paul Selway-Swift said during the firm’s full-year results announcement on September 11 2012 that the US currently accounts for 40% of PureCircle’s stevia sales, but sales to Europe, China, Mexico and Brazil are growing much faster.
‘Mass volume natural sweetener’
The firm was investing in NPD, and diversifying its supply base by growing stevia in Kenya, Paraguay and the US, as well as China, CEO Magomat Malsagov added.
“Longer term, we remain confident that stevia will emerge as a major global industry. Our business model is designed for a mass volume natural sweetener market,” Malsagov said.
Carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) are PureCircle’s biggest market for stevia, and the supply deal with Coke is contingent upon the developmental success of its “stevia-sweetener product” (Reb X), where it involves PureCircle supplying certain stevia products to Coke over a five-year period.
Selway-Swift said during the earnings call that Pure Circle’s earlier steviol glycoside, Rebaudioside A, only accounted for 40% of sales in 2012, versus 90% in 2009, as it brings newer ingredients to market.
PureCircle’s share price on the LSE has almost doubled year-on-year, and has risen solidly ever since the Coca-Cola announcement; it stood at 375p when the market closed last Friday.