Tate & Lyle investigates the stevia sweetener supply chain

The company has teamed up with Sweet Green Fields and Earthwatch in new sustainability research

Tate & Lyle has announced the launch of a stevia sustainability project with Earthwatch. The research study has been set up to assess the sustainability of the stevia sweetener supply chain. The initiative is in collaboration with the company's stevia partner, Sweet Green Fields.

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 maximised.

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.

Abigail Storms, VP Sweetener Platform and Global Platform Marketing at Tate & Lyle, commented: “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."

Storms said the company is proud to be working with its partners Sweet Green Fields and Earthwatch, and that the project aims "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”.

Popular sweetener

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.

Steven Loiselle, Senior Research Manager at Earthwatch, said: "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.”

Earthwatch will engage with a wide range of stakeholders in the stevia supply chain, from seedling producers to family-run planters and industrial farms.

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