Tate & Lyle has announced a new research project with its Sweet Green Fields stevia partner to assess the sustainability of the stevia sweetener supply chain.
The companies have joined forces with Earthwatch, an independent, non-profit based organisation, as they aim to identify steps to ensure that as the stevia market grows, sustainable growing practices are embedded and socio-economic benefits are maximised.
Tate & Lyle said it will use the research insights to establish and spread sustainability best practice across its stevia supply chains.
The announcement comes after Tate & Lyle acquired a 15% stake in US-based Sweet Green Fields last year and then launched a new line of stevia-based sweeteners in partnership with the business.
Stevia is a low-calorie sweetener that is becoming increasingly popular with food and beverage producers looking for consumer-friendly sugar alternatives that help them to reduce sugar and calories in their products.
Tate & Lyle said much of the world’s stevia supply is grown in China. Earthwatch-led scientists have begun conducting on-the-ground research in China to evaluate the socio-environmental impacts of stevia production, including analysing soil, water, waste, and energy impacts, as well as the effect on farming communities. Earthwatch will engage with a range of stakeholders in the stevia supply chain, from seedling producers to family-run planters and industrial farms.
Earthwatch senior research manager Steven Loiselle said: “Stevia farming is a key economic activity in many areas in China and a rapidly growing global ingredient for sugar replacement. Our project, working with leading researchers, producers and others, shows how multi-partner collaborations can be used to promote sustainable production.
“By working with local scientists and experts within China we are developing new knowledge for both Tate & Lyle, the broader stevia industry and local communities.”
Abigail Storms, VP sweetener platform and global platform marketing at Tate & Lyle, added: “As a leading provider of stevia to the food industry, Tate & Lyle wants to ensure that using stevia in greater quantities in the future as a replacement for sugar is a responsible choice for our business, as well as a healthy choice for consumers around the world.
“We are proud to be working with our partners Sweet Green Fields and Earthwatch to support sustainable stevia production to ensure that stevia not only improves consumer lives, but also supports sustainable livelihoods and farming practices in the supply chain, with minimal impact on the environment.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019