In 2017, ingredient supplier Tate & Lyle signed an exclusive partnership with Chinese stevia supplier Sweet Green Fields to develop and distribute new stevia ingredients globally.
According to Oswaldo Nardinelli, senior vice president of food and beverage at Tate & Lyle and general manager of Latin America, the South American plant that is native to Paraguay is its number one ingredient for sugar reduction.
The second priority ingredient is allulose, also known as psicose. Allulose is a monosaccharide that contains almost no calories (0.2-0.4 kcal/gram vs sugar at 4 kcal/gram). It has the bulk, texture, and taste of regular sugar, and 70% of the sweetness.
It can be blended with other sweeteners such as stevia and sucralose and works across categories, from beverages, yogurt and ice cream to baked products, salad dressings, gum, and cereals.
“We are developing a lot of products and prototypes with our customers using allulose, and has projects for this ingredient in Mexico, Colombia, Chile, and Costa Rica, with most demand coming from manufacturers in Mexico,” Nardinelli said.
The sweetener has not been approved for the Brazilian or Argentinian markets but a request was submitted by Tate & Lyle and is currently pending.
“There is no [approval] date yet but we are working very closely with the government bodies so they have all support and science they request,” Nardinelli told FoodNavigator-LATAM.
Tate & Lyle is also betting big on fiber. “Fiber is one of the fastest growing categories of ingredients we have for three reasons. Firstly, overall, fiber intake in Latin America is below recommended levels from different boards of health.
“Secondly, our products are soluble corn fiber, which means you get the benefit of fiber with no impact on the profile of the product. Finally, when you take out sugar, you need to compensate for the loss of mouthfeel and our fibers can do that.
“This kind of ingredient will grow a lot in the future, and we have been gaining market share in this category throughout the region,” he added.
Tate & Lyle organizes its LATAM business divisions by category. For instance, the same team will focus on dairy ingredients for all countries in the region.
“But there are different dynamics and you need to be aware of that,” said Nardinelli.
“The beverage category in Mexico is very strong and consumption per capita is higher than the US and other very developed markets, for instance. In Brazil, however, it’s much less developed so there is a potential to grow beverages there.”
“Another characteristic of the region is that we do have a lot of regional and local players, and in some cases, they are growing faster than the multinational companies because they are growing with new trends,” he added.
According to Nardinelli, Tate & Lyle’s customer has “a good balance” of big, local and regional players, which gives it solid knowledge of the market and region.