Stevia mega-supplier PureCircle is teeming up with Tereos, the second-largest sugar producer in Europe, to develop and market stevia extracts and innovative sweetening solutions.

The 50:50 joint venture has been launched under the name Tereos PureCircle Solutions, and aims to bring reduced-calorie products to the market.

The news, released last week, comes on the heels of promising news all across the stevia ingredient market.

In June, PureCircle released its unaudited fiscal year 2010 results, which noted a $300 million investment in its supply chain; a 400% higher production rate over FY 2008; and an increase to more than 100 stevia customers, up from 25 in FY 2009.

In August, one of its top competitors, GLG Life Tech, announced its second quarter 2010 results: a 35% increase in revenue year-over-year to $18.7 million; a 209% increase in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) to $6.3 million; as well as significant increases in distribution and new product launches.

In its most recent data on US grocery sales, SPINS reports that products with stevia sold in the food, drug and mass-market channel have climbed 734.78% in the past two years. For the year ended Aug. 7, sales totaled $70.79 million.

Worldwide, sales will only continue to grow, PureCircle predicts.

"Growth in the stevia industry will come from stevia's continued evolution from a table top sweetener to its widespread use in food and beverage categories," said Jason Hecker, vice president global marketing.
"Beverages became the first category to utilize stevia in a major way with launches such as Sobe Lifewater and Trop50.  Stevia's impact on food and beverage categories will continue to expand as new categories add stevia as a way to address the growing obesity trend.  Examples of this category acceptance can already be seen in recent yogurt and bread product launches."

Hecker also expects larger brands to begin embracing the natural, low-calorie sweetener.

"To date, stevia has been used mostly in new products and line extensions.  But we expect major manufacturers to use stevia as a means for reformulating their biggest brands to reduce their sugar and calorie profile," Hecker said.