PureCircle and its North Carolina farmer partners are about to harvest the company’s first commercial-scale crop of Starleaf stevia grown in the U.S. PureCircle’s proprietary Starleaf stevia is claimed to contain more of the best-tasting stevia sweeteners, such as Reb M, than other stevia plant variants. Fortunately, the company notes, the North Carolina farms growing the Starleaf stevia plants were not damaged by Hurricane Florence which tragically ravaged some areas of the Carolinas.
Following successful Starleaf stevia plot trials in North Carolina in 2017, PureCircle and a number of farmers in the state increased the amount of acreage dedicated to stevia by tenfold this year. The quality and yield of that Starleaf stevia met PureCircle’s standards. As a result, PureCircle plans to increase significantly the acreage used to grow stevia in the U.S. over the next two to three years.
The North Carolina program is enabling PureCircle to broaden and diversify its supply chain by increasing the amount of Starleaf stevia grown in different areas around the globe and throughout the year. This gives food and beverage companies further confidence, the company says, to launch global brands with PureCircle’s best-tasting stevia leaf sweeteners like Reb M.
The North Carolina farming partnerships have provided innovations for both PureCircle and the farmers. The work in North Carolina has yielded advances for the company’s stevia agronomy program, including how to adapt growing stevia plants to different regions of the world. In addition, the mechanization of farming – and advances from this program – are said to be particularly important in North Carolina to maintain a sustainable economic crop.
PureCircle CEO Maga Malsagov said: “Our partnerships in North Carolina will significantly increase our supply of Starleaf stevia plants grown in North America and thereby geographically diversify our stevia plant supply. We plan to increase the North Carolina program next year and again in future years. We currently have three strong farming partnerships in North Carolina, and we expect to bring many more farmers into our program.” He added: “We could not be more pleased with this year’s results.”
PureCircle recently announced advances which enable it to supply significantly more Reb M for the food and beverage industry. The company produces Reb M both directly from Starleaf stevia plants, like the ones being grown in North Carolina, and from other stevia sweeteners in the plants. In the latter case, PureCircle starts with purified stevia leaf extract with low Reb M content and by adding an enzyme, the maturation to Reb M is completed just as the leaf does itself.
The recent advances now enable PureCircle to significantly boost production of the stevia sweeteners which it claims have the most sugar-like taste and which are most sought after by beverage and food companies. PureCircle says that its two-front innovation enables the company to provide its best-tasting stevia sweeteners in significant quantities and cost effectively for its customers.