The UK is to be at the heart of PureCircle’s efforts to crack the European Union market for stevia, once regulatory approval for the all-natural sweetener is confirmed.
The company has announced the opening of its new European headquarters in London and has appointed a respected British nutrition scientist to the board of its educational body, the Global Stevia Institute.
The authorities in Europe are expected to approve stevia as early as November, bringing to an end years of lobbying to allow the zero-calorie sweetener to be used in food and beverage products across the continent.
PureCircle believes the UK in particular holds significant promise for stevia. It is already one of Europe’s largest markets for sweeteners and in research conducted in July PureCircle found that 70 percent of UK adults were more conscious of their sugar intake than they were five years ago.
The company hopes that the appointment of Dr. Margaret Ashwell to the board of its Global Stevia Institute will “further its education and outreach efforts in Europe with increased attention to the UK market.” Ashwell is a scientific consultant who has worked closely with the UK government’s food industry watchdog, the Food Standards Agency, in the area of nutrition and obesity.
The Global Stevia Institute was set up in 2010 to lead PureCircle’s efforts to spread the word about stevia’s nutritional benefits among health professionals, the industry, politicians and consumers.
Commenting on the company’s new EU base in London, Jordi Ferre, president of PureCircle’s commercial division, said: “Our direct UK presence will enable us to partner with customers across Europe. Sales, marketing, and application support will all be available through the UK operations, further demonstrating PureCircle’s industry leading ability to provide solutions to customers throughout product development stages.”
See the forthcoming October 2011 issue of Functional Ingredients magazine for an in-depth analysis of stevia’s prospects in the European Union, post-approval.