With new product launches in mainstream brands, global roll out of a new green cola category and strong development in food applications, PureCircle chief financial officer William Mitchell said 2014 was a breakthrough year.
“It was a breakthrough year for stevia by any category. From the size of the brand, the range of categories and countries, it was certainly a step change in the stevia market,” said Mitchell.
The pivotal year saw stevia’s presence in mainstream brands including beverages Coca-Cola Life, Pepsi Next, Lipton RTD Tea, as well as other mainstream food and dairy products.
“The period has also seen a wide range of stevia sweetened product launches from major retailers across Europe and America and iconic brand adoption in categories as diverse as ketchups, yoghurts and confectionery,” he said.
The company said that a separate report by global market research company Mintel had showed that the number of stevia global launches had continued to grow in 2014 and was up 23% on the previous year.
In line with expectations
Mitchell added that the company had performed in line with expectations and was fully aligned with long term sales projections. “Our guidance in September was for between $40m and $45m and we came in at $43m, which was fully in line with expectations.”
The company added that the size and breadth of food and beverages product launches and roll-outs last year indicated that stevia was now well on the way to becoming an important ingredient for companies wishing to moderate calories.
“The products that are being launched today are creating a good pathway for it to become a large scale and mainstream ingredient. The foot prints are out there for a billion dollar plus industry,” added Mitchell.
He said that the company now anticipates a sustained 30% year on year growth for the next five years with stevia being added to more products and categories worldwide. “We are very confident about our long term plans for stevia. It is a highly efficient sweetener that requires much less land and water than sugar. We have started to expand our production capacity to meet anticipated future increased volume,” he added.
The next three years will see the roll out of more mainstream brands with stevia, he added.
Growing stevia worldwide
While in short term a tight leaf supply in China led to an increase in leaf prices this year, the company’s mid and long term goals are in “leaf diversification programme”, he said.
“We have been diversifying since 2008 and are growing stevia in about seventeen other countries including Africa, Latin America and other regions,” he added.
The Malaysian-headquartered sweetener supplier announced sales of £29.16m (€40.46m) from £23.68m (€32.91m) over the same period last year.
Its gross profits rose 18% to £9.81m (€13.63m) in 2015 from £8.32m (€11.56m) a year before.