UK – Food and beverage ingredients supplier, Tate & Lyle has partnered Earthwatch, an international environment body to launch a new research project to assess the sustainability of the stevia sweetener supply chain.

The strategic review will be carried out by Earthwatch, Tate & Lyle and its stevia partner Sweet Green Fields will join expertise in identifying ways to ensure that stevia sweetener is sourced sustainably.

The goal of the research is 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 whose stevia sweeteners range include TASTEVA Stevia Sweetener, will utilize the insights from the joint research to establish and spread sustainability best practice across its stevia supply chains and beyond.

“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 Tate & Lyle, 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,” said Abigail Storms, VP Sweetener Platform and Global Platform Marketing at Tate & Lyle.

The company has been expanding its stevia range with new stevia-based, zero-calorie sweeteners (Intesse Stevia 2.0 and Optimizer Stevia 4.10), launched last year to address the growing need for great-tasting sugar alternatives in food and beverages.

Sourcing its stevia sustainably is part of Tate & Lyle’s commitment to operating responsibly while protecting the environment.

Earthwatch-led local scientists have started the research in China, where Tate & Lyle and its partner Sweet Green Fields sources their stevia, 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.

“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,” said Steven Loiselle, Senior Research Manager at Earthwatch.