Tate & Lyle has launched an investigation into the sustainability of its stevia supply chain.
The company said independent non-profit Earthwatch would carry out the inquiry, which “aims to identify steps to ensure that as the stevia market grows, sustainable growing practices are embedded consistently and socio-economic benefits are maximised”.
Tate & Lyle sources its stevia, a low calorie sweetener, in China, as does its partner Sweet Green Fields. According to Earthwatch, around 90% of the world’s stevia production is grown in China.
“Earthwatch-led scientists have begun on-the-ground research in China to evaluate the socio-economic impacts of stevia production, including analysing soil, water, waste and energy impacts, as well as the effect on farming communities,” said Tate & Lyle.
Steven Loiselle, senior research manager at Earthwatch, 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, vice-president of sweetener platform and global platform marketing at Tate & Lyle, said: “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."
"From a Tate & Lyle perspective, we see it as the responsibility of the leading producers of this ingredient."
In Coca Cola's latest 2018 annual results it said revenues had increased 4% €11.5bn, with Coca Cola Zero Sugar's 11% increase in sales driving the growth.
According to a 2018 report by Zion Market Research, the global alternative sweetener market was valued at around $13.04bn in 2017 and is expected to reach approximately $18.60bn by 2024.
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