2013

Instilling a Commitment of Sustainability from the Beginning

SEB 7813

MoisesToday’s global consumers are increasingly looking for products from a natural origin to help them manage their daily caloric intake. These same people care about where their food comes from and how the environment and the people who grow these products are treated. Truvia® brand. Truvia® has answered this consumer need with its calorie free sweetener whose sweetness is made from the best-tasting part of the stevia leaf. Much as how coffee shops saw that consumers were looking for a great tasting cup of coffee that was sourced responsibly, we saw the demand for calorie free sweetness from nature. Today stevia-based products can be found in over 56 million U.S. households.

When we started, stevia was grown on small farms scattered around Asia and in some remote areas in South America.  As we built a stevia supply chain on a global commercial scale, we saw the rare opportunity to help shape the stevia industry from the ground up in a responsible way.

We view the development of a best-practice stevia agricultural standard as a core component of our strategy to set the bar for responsible practices in the stevia industry and give producers a guide for the responsible cultivation of stevia.

Our stevia standard is applicable to small-scale farms globally. It aims to minimize environmental impact, promote the health and safety of the producer, align with food safety and traceability requirements, and ensure continuous improvement. We piloted it with a cooperative group of farmers in Argentina, where agricultural technicians worked with them to provide training and technical assistance on the stevia standard as well as agricultural best practices.

One of the most rewarding aspects of my work is the collaboration I am fostering between the stevia-growing programs in Asia and South America.  In the past, research was done in isolation.  Now, we have integration, and by sharing our findings, we are seeing advances come more quickly.  With the implementation of the standard in China, the stevia farmers are benefiting from the knowledge and experience of the farmers in Argentina.

Similarly to how coffee is all about developing the best bean – one that prospers in various weather conditions, is resistant to diseases, and yet also delivers a consistent taste when used alone or in blends – my research focuses on developing proprietary stevia varieties.  In collaboration with universities and partners worldwide, I lead genetic improvement programs that rely on traditional breeding methods such as selection and crossings. These programs focus on stevia traits like leaf yield, glycoside content, drought tolerance and disease resistance, emphasizing certain attributes depending on the environmental factors unique to each growing region.

Producing good crops depends on clean water, healthy soil, clean air and sunlight. As a food brand, our awareness of the importance of taking care of natural resources over the long term cannot be overstated. To ensure proper care of natural resources, we undertook a life-cycle analysis to understand the major environmental impacts in the stevia value chain. The results brought four key areas to the forefront: greenhouse gas emissions, water use, waste, and land management.

With that understanding of the environmental impacts, the Truvia® business made some significant commitments, including the following:
•    Reduce carbon footprint by 50% in 2015 from a 2010 baseline to become carbon neutral in 2020.  Truvia® sweetener is the first sweetener to receive certification of its carbon footprint by the UK-based Carbon Trust.
•    Ensure all processed water is returned in the same quality in which it was taken and reduce net depletion by 25% by 2020.
•    Reduce waste by 50% across the supply chain in 2015 in efforts to become zero waste by 2020.
•    Ensure stevia in the Truvia® supply chain is not grown on conservation or protected land.

We believe the best way to ensure proper care is to implement a system that strives for continuous improvement.  I work with the families to form long-term relationships and engage as a team to improve the communities where stevia is harvested and the Truvia® enterprise operates. We also provide support to producers to invest in education, healthcare, farm improvements and technical assistance.  Our goal for these programs is that it will stimulate self-sufficient and thriving communities, using education and schools as the portal to reach not just children, but also families and farmers.

With an industry just in its infancy, we support the work of the International Stevia Council, the industry group whose mission is focused on increasing the understanding and awareness of stevia, affirming its safety and establishing consistent analytical methods for stevia content.  As with any new innovation in the food industry, it is important that standards and practices be set to ensure accountability and transparency among stevia producers.

We have built a sustainable “field to table” stevia supply chain and committed to important economic, social and environmental goals.  This is a journey and one that continues to evolve and improve as we learn from the practices that we have implemented.  As the demand increases for stevia-sweetened products around the world, we see the work we do as setting the standard for the growing stevia industry.

Similar to the coffee industry, we made the decision to instill two core values into the development of a sustainable stevia supply chain – ethical practices and fair pricing. Wherever we operate and whatever we do, we treat all people and business partners with dignity and respect. Through a system of self-assessments and third-party audits, this ensures that the supply chains, which bring our product from field to table, are managed with integrity and transparency.  We put a lot of care into each packet of Truvia® sweetener so each of our consumers can complement their cup of coffee with Truvia® sweetener to make their perfect cup.
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Natvia, a key Stevia provider
In the United States, the average adult consumes about 22 teaspoons of sugar per day, almost three times the recommended daily intake.  Natvia wanted to offer people a healthy, natural way to enjoy a little sweetness in their lives. In 2009, they launched in Australia seeking to inspire a better life in people around the globe. A few short years later, they are very proud to be custodians of a product that their fans describe as “the world’s best sweetener”.

To create Natvia they used only the freshest tips of Stevia plants, known as Reb A, and carefully blended the stevia with a naturally occurring fruit nectar, known as Erythritol, that is found in melons and grapes. The result is a 100% natural pure, clean, sweet tasting zero calorie sweetener.  Natvia also has no impact on blood sugar levels making it the ideal choice for diabetics to enjoy a sweet experience while still managing their sugar intake.

In creating Natvia they focused not only on the health benefits for their customers, but also on creating the best taste. To accomplish this they assembled a panel of coffee industry experts, including roasters, café owners, and baristas to help develop a clean tasting profile that compliments coffee. After conducting 600 trials, they ended up with a sweetener that had no bitter or chemical aftertaste, did not leave any film in the cup, and did not mask the flavors of coffee or espresso drinks.

Natvia has received praise from nutritionists, diabetics, health conscious consumers, and coffee lovers for the clean taste and natural ingredients.  The world’s most celebrated coffee roasters and cafes are serving Natvia to their customers. Natvia believes they have created the world’s best natural sweetener.

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