UK – Leading British ingredients company Tate & Lyle has fully acquired stevia producer Sweet Green Fields, culminating a three-year long relationship that started with a distribution agreement in 2017.

London-based Tate & Lyle, which is well known for its sweeteners, has already dabbled successfully in stevia.

Its Tasteva product features steviol glycoside Reb M, but this acquisition gives the company a wider array of offerings, which it can use to capture a larger share of a market that continues to expand and bolster its bottom line.

Even without the full ownership of Sweet Green Fields, Tate & Lyle said that its stevia revenues grew by 23% during the 12 months ending March 3.

The acquisition however simplifies its relationship with Sweet Green Fields, allowing it to create a fully integrated supply chain and unite the Research and Development Divisions of both companies.

With the acquisition and the expected synergies between the two companies, Tate and Lyle expects also to optimize its operation and accelerate innovation in the sweetener space.

Accelerated innovation is especially important given that Stevia still remains a top product in the alternative sweetener’s category.

Mintel data cited by Tate & Lyle said product launches containing stevia had a compound annual growth rate of 15% between 2015 and 2019.

Part of the demand according to the ingredients company stems from increasing consumer demand for cleaner labels and lower sugar formulations.

Updates to the Nutrition Facts panel have also brought closer attention to sugar in packaged goods, a spotlight spurring manufacturer to look to nature for sweet alternatives.

Tate is however not the only player targets to capture the growing market of sugar alternatives.

This year alone, Ingredion acquired PureCircle, Splenda owner Heartland Food Products Group began soliciting U.S. farmers to grow stevia and SweeGen added Bestevia Reb I, a high purity, clean label stevia to its portfolio.

But while stevia is one of the hottest sugar replacement solutions on the market, it is not without its downsides.

Stevia has been known to have a bitter aftertaste, but companies like Sweet Green Fields, PureCircle, Pyure and Apura Ingredients have been making extracts from glycosides found in the stevia leaf that eliminate and minimize this off flavor.

The result is that the category is becoming both competitive and popular and for Sweet Green Fields, having a deep-pocketed owner with a far-reaching distribution network will be valuable in an increasingly competitive stevia and sweetener space.

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