China's stevia sweetener industry growing rapidly 02-01-2016

China’s stevia sweetener industry made great changes in 2015: enterprises began to differentiate themselves from others and downstream enterprises started to use stevia sweeteners. Overall, China’s stevia sweetener industry is developing rapidly. However, CCM believes that the majority of domestic producers still need to make more efforts in marketing themselves and products.


Stevia sweeteners are receiving more attention from the world's food and beverage industry when it was used by Pepsi Co Inc. and The Coca Cola Company in 2014, as CCM once predicted. The period from 2015 to 2017 will witness huge development of the stevia sweetener industry in China and even in the world. The past 2015 has seen great changes in China's stevia sweetener industry.

Differentiated stevia sweeteners

In total, there are more than 30 stevia sweetener producers in China. In the past, their products were mainly RA and SG series. However, in 2015, many leading stevia sweetener enterprises gradually began to launch new products and take the course of differentiation.

For instance, GLG Life Tech Corporation (GLG) promoted Reb C, Reb D and Reb M series, of which the steviol glycoside is tastier than RA and SG series, with advantages similar to sugar. For another example, Zhucheng Haotian Pharm Co., Ltd. (ZCHT) promoted not only Reb M, Reb C and Reb D steviol glycosides, but also the compound sweetener, namely Zi Ran TianTM (= natural sweetness) to provide clients with stevia sweetener application solution.

Stevia leaf contains far less Reb M, Reb C and Reb D, but much Reb A. In dried leaves, Reb A takes up 32%, Reb C at 8%, Reb D and Reb M just at <1%. Both GLG and ZCHT have cultivated stevia varieties that have higher Reb M and Reb D contents. Specifically, the Reb D seedling GLG has cultivated contains 1.26% of Reb D (calculated based on dried leaf), about 9.4% of the total steviol glycosides. In new Reb M seedling, there is 0.53% of Reb M (also based on dried leaf), 4% of the total steviol glycosides.

As the cultivation of new stevia varieties requires a great deal of funds and advanced technology, the tasty steviol glycosides such as Reb M are produced at very high costs – the majority of domestic producers cannot afford it. As a matter of fact, China has less than 5 enterprises capable of Reb B, Reb C and Reb D production, including PureCircle Limited (PureCircle) who had promoted Reb D and Reb M steviol glycosides before 2015.



Downstream products began to use stevia sweeteners

In 2015, more Chinese food and beverage enterprises gradually added stevia sweeteners in their products. For instance, Tingyi (Cayman Islands) Holding Corp. promoted "Shuiyang" fortified drink, and Uni-President China Holdings Ltd. marketed "Student Xiaoming" cold-making tea. Although China has not yet promoted as many new products using stevia sweeteners as foreign countries, the two biggest domestic beverage makers will lead and push forward the application of stevia sweetener in the downstream.


Compared with the world's well-known stevia sweetener suppliers, such as Sweet Green Fields, PureCircle, GLG and Cargill Incorporated, the Chinese enterprises are quite conservative in the product and enterprise marketing. Accordingly, the international giant players in succession promoted new products and unveiled technology R&D progress in Chinese media in 2015.

Great majority of domestic stevia sweetener enterprises concentrate on producing low-marketed products with small investments and at low costs. As such, domestic stevia sweetener enterprises prefer to cooperate with famous foreign enterprises and promote their stevia sweeteners, so as to enhance the product marketing with reliance on the latter’s influence and promotion. In such cases, generally, the Chinese enterprises are only suppliers of crude stevia sweeteners to the famous international brands, making little difference in improving their own brand recognition.


New drinks using stevia sweeteners, 2015

Note: Left= "Shuiyang" fortified drink launched by Tingyi (Cayman Islands) Holding Corp.;

Right= "Student Xiaoming" cold-making tea launched by Uni-President China Holdings Ltd.


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Tag: stevia sweetener

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