Beverage makers eager to release soft drinks with naturally-derived, zero-calorie Stevia
ATLANTA and, PURCHASE, N.Y. Diet beverages may undergo an ingredient makeover within the next few months as a new sweetener called stevia hits the market. Stevia contains no calories or carbohydrates and has a glycemic index of zero.
The sweetener, which originates from a Latin American plant, has been marketed for years as a food and beverage additive as well as a stand-alone sweetener in outside countries, including Brazil, South Korea and Japan. It was introduced to the U.S. in the 80s, but the FDA limited it to a dietary supplement in 1995. Now the FDA is making moves to permit its use in food and beverages.
Naturally, both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have jumped on the opportunity to use a sweetener with natural origins and zero calories in their products and are currently in talks with the FDA. So far, Wisdom Natural Brands’ SweetLeaf stevia sweetener is leading the stevia brand, according to a new Packaged Facts study, and is currently the only stevia product with the FDA’s Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) label, which assures consumers that competent scientific research has found the product to be safe.
Coke and Cargill have teamed up to sell their own version of stevia, called Truvia, as a tabletop sweetener, and the Wall Street Journal has reported that Coke may introduce a new beverage containing Truvia within the next few months. PepsiCo has followed similar steps and joined forces with Whole Earth Sweetener Company to create a stevia-based tabletop sweetener called PureVia. Both Coke/Cargill and PepsiCo/Whole Earth Sweetener Company have filed requests for a GRAS label in May with the FDA, which has 180 days to respond.
Cub Food hopes to spread environmental awareness with opening of ‘green’ grocery store
MINNEAPOLIS Cub Food is now operating the nation’s first “green” grocery store in St. Paul, the company said. The store is certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and will save about $6,500 in energy costs per year.
To construct the store, builders used recycled materials and energy-efficient lights and fixtures. The store also has 44 solar-powered skylights and the parking lot is equipped with LED lights which have a lifetime of about 40 years.
Additionally, the outdoor landscaping will be irrigated using a system designed to conserve water and landscapers will plant drought-resistant plants around the store, Cub Food said.
Spartan expanding acquisition plans to cover VG’s stores in Michigan
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. Spartan Stores on Monday announced that it has entered into a purchase agreement to acquire 17 retail grocery stores, including 15 pharmacies, from VG’s Food Center and VG’s Pharmacy, a privately held Fenton, Michigan-based retail grocery operator.
“We are very enthused to bring VG’s, a premier Michigan retail grocery operator, further into the Spartan Stores’ family,” stated Craig Sturken, Spartan chairman. This transaction follows our successful acquisitions of D&W Food Centers and Felpausch Food Centers. The VG’s stores serve communities in key Michigan markets where we have no retail presence. The Van Gilder family has been one of our best and most loyal distribution customers for nearly 50 years, and we are very proud of our long-standing relationship with them.”
Spartan expects the transaction to close near the end of its fiscal 2009 third quarter. Upon completion, the transaction is expected to increase annual retail segment sales by approximately $310 million, with annual consolidated sales increasing approximately $160 million, as VG’s is an existing distribution customer of Spartan’s.
The acquisition grows Spartan’s footprint to 101 retail supermarkets. Prior to the announcement Spartan Stores owned and operated 84 retail supermarkets in Michigan, including Family Fare Supermarkets, Glen’s Markets, D&W Fresh Markets and Felpausch Food Centers.