Tate & Lyle to assess sustainability of stevia supply chain
Global food and beverage provider Tate & Lyle has announced a new partnership aiming to assess the stevia sweetener supply chain for any improvements that can be made to environmental, energy and social stewardship.
Tate & Lyle is teaming with its stevia partner Sweet Green Fields and international non-profit Earthwatch to identify new solutions and working methods that ensure that the stevia market grows using sustainable and ethical practices.
“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 Tate & Lyle, as well as a healthy choice for consumers around the world,” Tate & Lyle’s vice president for its sweetener platform Abigail Storms 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.”
Stevia is a naturally sourced, low-calorie sweetener that is gaining traction as a replacement for sugar based on health benefits.
Much of the global supply for stevia derives from China, from a mix of small and large farms. Earthwatch has deployed local scientists to begin on-the-ground research in the country to evaluate impacts related to farmer treatment, soil and water use, energy consumption and waste produced.
The global stevia market is anticipated to surpass £431m by 2024 according to a report by Grand View Research. In 2015, the market generated £263m.
The beverage sector accounts for the largest share of this market, holding more than 34% of total volume in 2015. Demand for the ingredient is being driven by health concerns and in the UK, it has become a legislative matter.
A sugar tax was introduced in the UK in April 2018. In the first six months of the tax, soft drink purchases raised more than £153.8m. However, Public Health England (PHE) has argued that the food and drink industry has moved quick enough to reduce the amount of sugar in products.
A PHE survey from 2018 found that 90% of the public supported the notion of the UK Government working with business and the industry to make products healthier.