PureCircle has announced the expansion of their stevia supply in the fertile agricultural lands of Itapúa, Paraguay with the planting of the first 13 hectares of Stevia in partnership with the Kress Group. This latest agricultural expansion in Latin America is in keeping with PureCircle's strategic goals to ensure the highest quality sources of Stevia and broaden worldwide production.
These 13 hectares are in fields owned by the Kress Group (www.frutika.com.py). The company, headquartered in Asunción, Paraguay, is best known for its Frutika brand of fruit juices. Frutika owns approximately 20,000 hectares of land that are currently used to cultivate many crops today, and can accommodate future expansion for Stevia. Additionally, Itapúa, located in Southern Paraguay and sharing a natural border with Argentina along the Paraná River, has the potential to become a leading Stevia growing region as it has become for soy and other crops.
“Our agreement with Frutika is especially sweet because they are now a full supply chain partner,” says Fernando Chilavert, Managing Director for PureCircle South America S.A. “In addition to being a customer, now they are also one of our farmers. So we have in a way completed a full circle, where a valued customer becomes a key supplier of our own, proprietary variety of Stevia leaves,” he adds.
Frutika takes special pride in its land and local citizenry, using 100 percent Paraguayan fruit grown on its own plantations by approximately 4,000 farmers. “We believe we have found a solution, in Stevia, that has its roots in this land, and can be the best option for producers, industry and of course consumers,” Cristina Kress, CEO of Frutika, said, adding: “PureCircle is very committed to Paraguay and to Stevia. We are working with PureCircle to grow Stevia in order to carry on our tradition of using ingredients that come from this land.”
Frutika's light juices, sweetened with Stevia by PureCircle, are now making their way to retail markets throughout South America, with expansion planned for Europe and Africa. “We believe that the world will ask for Stevia, and it is our mission to provide it to people as a natural solution,” Kress said.
Frutika products, such as orange and peach nectar drinks, feature promotion of Stevia on the label as well as the declaration of “60% menos calorias,” or 60 percent fewer calories.
Paraguay’s role in Stevia’s growth
PureCircle has been a global leader in cultivating a diversified, global supply of high-purity Stevia. Toward that end, the expansion in Paraguay builds on PureCircle’s existing agricultural development in Kenya, China, the United States and 12 additional countries in which it maintains agricultural operations. The recent developments with the Kress Group build on a history of PureCircle’s strategic focus in Paraguay. In 2009, PureCircle signed an agreement with the Government Agency of the United States for International Development (USAID) and the governor of Itapúa. With this agreement, PureCircle became the first company to gain growing rights in this important region. In 2010, PureCircle further established and expanded its Stevia supply in Paraguay through additional long-term contracts. And PureCircle has annually provided financial support to the Amigos de las Americas (AMIGOS) project in San Pedro, Paraguay. This partnership continues today to bring local health, education and development, programs to the region.
While all PureCircle ingredients are recognized for their consistency and overall performance, PureCircle experience has shown that locations including Paraguay and Kenya can produce leaves with significantly higher levels of steviol glycosides and therefore can be far more efficient to produce. As production increases in areas with more favorable climates, PureCircle’s ingredients, such as SG95 and Reb A, will become an even more attractive alternative to other mass volume sweeteners like corn sweeteners and sugar.
PureCircle (www.purecircle.com) is the global leader in the production of high purity stevia products. PureCircle is leading the industry with the development of a strong sustainable natural supply chain. Stevia is now being grown for PureCircle in more than 15 countries across South America, Africa, Asia, and the United States; it provides a sustainable cash crop for rural farming communities in each region. As part of its leadership of the stevia industry, PureCircle® has pioneered the industry trust mark Stevia PureCircle® that educates consumers about the benefits of Stevia and provides a strong base of trust for both consumers and Food & Beverage companies alike. PureCircle’s global headquarters are in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. PureCircle shares are traded on the LSE AIM index.