PureCircle, a Malyasia-based producer of sugar substitutes, plans to invest about $200 million over the next five years in India to cultivate stevia (meethi tulsi), a shrub whose leaf extract is a natural sweetener. It will also set up a supply chain and eventually a processing unit in the country, the company said on Tuesday.
The London Stock Exchange-listed firm, which won approval from the government in December 2015 for the investment, has already started trials with farmers in six states. “Over the next five years, we hope to have 5,000 hectares of farm land that would grow stevia. Once we reach the capacity of about 15,000 tonnes of stevia leaf a year in India, we’ll look at putting up a processing plant here,” said Jason Hecker, president of group sales and marketing at PureCircle.