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From Times Online
May 31, 2007

Coke teams up with Cargill to launch new sweetener

Giants of food and drinks aim to develop their own rival to NutraSweet and Tate & Lyle's sucralose to meet health demand

Coca-Cola and food ingredient giant Cargill have teamed up to market a new calorie-free natural sweetener they hope will shake up the global market currently dominated by Tate & Lyle's sucralose and Splenda and US company NutraSweet.
The sweetener, tentatively named rebiana, will be based on the Stevia plant native to Paraguay but increasingly used as a health food in the Far East and Hollywood, The Wall Street Journal reports today.
Coca-Cola has filed 24 patents applications in the past week around extracting the tastiest parts of the Stevia plant and is seeking exclusive rights to develop and market rebiana for use in drinks, while Cargill, one of the world's largest agribusiness and trading companies, owned by the founding Cargill and MacMillan families, will market it for use in food such as yoghurt, cereals, ice cream and sweets. It has spent the past three years developing Stevia plantations in China, Paraguay and Argentina.
However, the two companies acknowledge that they face regulatory troubles since Stevia has been banned in the US and EU after a 1985 medical study linked the plant to liver problems.
They aim to market it first in countries where Stevia is not banned, such as Japan and South America, and Cargill seeks to help regulatory approval in the US by sponsoring more scientific studies.
Coca-Cola has been attempting to develop its own sweetener from the Stevia plant for the past 10 years. The beverages giant has resisted using Tate & Lyle's sucralose sweetener in its diet fizzy drinks, it is thought because it believes it leaves an aftertaste.
Instead it mainly used NutraSweet, made by the Chicago company of the same name.
Tate & Lyle last week blamed a failure to penetrate the vast US carbonated diet drinks market for disappointing sales of Splenda, its artificial sweetener, which make up 20 per cent of group profits.
Iain Ferguson, the chief executive, admitted that US sales of Splenda, had been "less than we had hoped for" during the year to March 30.
"We have not yet cracked any of the major lines there," he said and warned that profits growth from the product would be only modest in the current year.
Cargill is the second-largest privately held business in the United States after Koch Industries. In 2006, Cargill’s sales of $75.2 billion would have ranked it 18th on the Fortune 500 list.
It handles a quarter of all US grain exports, ships more than 6 million tonnes of sugar a year, and is a world leader in cocoa and chocolate. Through Degussa, it also has leading positions in ingredients, such as salt, flour, malt, sweeteners, starches.


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