PureCircle wants a slice of the pie in China’s sugar substitute market

By Guan Yu Lim

- Last updated on GMT

PureCircle ramping up production for the China market after receiving a patent for its stevia Reb M sweetener in China  ©PureCircle
PureCircle ramping up production for the China market after receiving a patent for its stevia Reb M sweetener in China ©PureCircle

Related tags China Sugar substitute Stevia Stevia leaf Sweetener

Stevia producer PureCircle is seeking to ramp-up production for the China market after receiving a patent for its stevia Reb M sweetener in the country.

Food and beverage companies are working to reduce sugar and calories in their products as the global concern about obesity and diabetes continue to grow.

As with the rest of the world, Asia is also quickly becoming more health and wellness conscious, opening up opportunities for the sugar substitute market.

According to Mintel Global New Products Database, the Asia-Pacific region had the most number of new products (1650 products) launched with stevia leaf sweeteners in 2018, more than any other region.

Last year, the APAC region also saw a 48% increase in new products launched with stevia, compared to 2017.

The firm’s CEO, Maga Malsagov told FoodNavigator-Asia​: “China, like many other countries, is grappling with an increase in obesity, and use of our stevia leaf sweeteners in China will help companies offer consumers more and better low-and zero-calorie products​.”

He added that, “The Asia sugar substitute market is primed for great tasting, plant-based, zero calorie ingredients​.”

He said China was an important market for the company: “We are pleased to have this new patent in China, as it will protect our innovation in an important market for our natural non-GMO stevia leaf sweetener ingredients​.”

PureCircle currently has 198 patents granted, and approximately 350 patents pending globally.

With the new patent in China, the firm planned to scale up production of its sweetener ingredients, and supply to food and beverage companies in a more cost-effective way.

Versatile sweetener

Malsagov said Reb M is a versatile sweetener, suitable across a wide variety of food and beverage applications.

He said it has been increasingly used in “carbonated soft drinks, ice cream, baked goods, flavoured and sparkling waters, sports nutrition drinks and bars, ready-to-drink teas and coffees, yogurt, flavoured milks​.”

The firm was unable to disclose companies using its ingredients, but said its customers include leading F&B companies.

In the pipeline

To meet the growing demand for stevia sweeteners, PureCircle is rapidly ramping up its supply capability.

It completed expansion of its Malaysian stevia extract facility in March 2017. The firm also has an extraction centre in Jiangxi province, China.

Besides Reb M, PureCircle has other stevia leaf sweeteners and flavours such as Reb A and Reb D.

Malsagov said the company was investing heavily in stevia leaf innovation, “to get the most out of the stevia leaf, and we are excited to bring forward several functional ingredients to market for the leaf including new sweeteners, flavours, antioxidants, fibers and proteins​.”

He said the company eventually intended to commercialise proteins, fibres and antioxidants sourced from the stevia leaf.

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