PureCircle to make India a regional export hub for stevia

PureCircle, the largest producer of the zero-calorie sweetener globally, is currently undertaking field studies.

Malaysia-based PureCircle is planning to make India its regional production and export hub for ‘Stevia’, a sweetener extracted from the leaves of a plant called Stevia rebaudiana, in the next five years.

The company will invest Rs 1,300 crore ($200 million) in the country to set up a manufacturing plant and procure raw material locally, Magomet Malsagov, chief executive of PureCircle, told Business Standard.

PureCircle, the largest producer of the zero-calorie sweetener globally, is currently undertaking field studies.

PureCircle supplies to nearly 300 food and beverage manufacturers in around 100 countries. It also supplies to fast-moving consumer goods majors such as Nestle, Coca-Cola, and Pepsi.

The recently-launched 7UP Revive from PepsiCo is the first stevia-based drink in India. The launch came months after India’s apex food regulator Food Safety and Standards Authority of India had allowed the use of stevia into processed foods and beverages in November 2015.

“We’ll procure 15,000 tonnes of dry stevia leaves locally, for which farming has to be done in 5,000 hectares of land. This will benefit 15,000 farmers directly,” said Malsagov.

The proposed Indian plant will cater to the south-Asia region, he added.

Globally, stevia has a Rs 1,300-crore market. After entering India, PureCircle aims to replace 20 per cent of the 20-million tonnes of sugar consumption in India.

“We are in talks with all major Indian companies to cut deals,” said Ajay Chandran, senior director (south Asia), PureCircle. The company has identified six states  including Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand and Punjab for farming of stevia plants.

source: Business Standard April 13, 2016

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