Tate & Lyle PLC (Tate & Lyle), together with its stevia partner Sweet Green Fields, is pleased to announce a new research project to assess the sustainability of the stevia sweetener supply chain. Earthwatch, an independent, international non-profit environmental science-based organisation, is leading the stevia supply chain review, which aims to identify steps to ensure that as the stevia market grows, sustainable growing practices are embedded consistently and socio-economic benefits are maximized.
Tate & Lyle, in partnership with Sweet Green Fields and Earthwatch, will use the research insights to establish and spread sustainability best practice across its stevia supply chains and beyond.
Stevia is a naturally sourced low calorie sweetener that is increasingly popular with food and beverage producers looking for consumer-friendly, great-tasting sugar alternatives that help them to reduce sugar and calories in their products. Much of the world’s stevia supply is grown in China on a mix of small to larger farms, including the leaf for Tate & Lyle’s stevia ingredients and those produced by its partner, Sweet Green Fields.
Earthwatch-led local 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 wide range of stakeholders in the stevia supply chain, from seedling producers to family-run planters and industrial farms.
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, VP sweetener platform and global platform marketing at Tate & Lyle, said: “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.”