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Cargill announces release of sweetener made from stevia

BY Jenna Duncan

WAYZATA, Minn. Cargill today introduced that it will be launching a natural sweetener, Truvia, made from leaves of the South American herb stevia.

Cargill has called the release of the new calorie-free sweetener a “milestone” because of its proposed uses in foods, beverages and for home use.

“We have spent more than two years validating the consumer demand for this new sweetener,” said Marcelo Montero, president of Cargill Health & Nutrition. “Soon consumers will recognize Truvia for quality and great taste, delivering the first natural, zero calorie sweetness people have been asking for.”

Truvia comes from rebiana, the leafy part of the stevia plant which is a shrub native to Paraguay, also grown in China for commercial purposes. A process of drying and then steeping the leaf in water releases the taste of the rebiana, which reportedly has a sweetness 200 times more potent than sugar.

Cargill has announced the release of Truvia the same day that a report was released online by the Food and Chemical Toxicology detailing results of a research study into the safety of rebiana. The study evaluated rebiana use for safety, stability and its effect on metabolism, as well as other health related effects.

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Pepsi revamps Web site, boosts digital media presence

BY Jenna Duncan

PURCHASE, N.Y. Pepsi-Cola North America has given its Web site, pepsi.com, a total makeover.

The purpose of the Pepsi site re-launch was to simplify the visitor experience, the company said. Pages were designed so users can easily select links to four main features, including: the Design Our Pepsi Can promotion contest, Diet Pepsi Max information pages, the Pepsi Racing page featuring NASCAR tie-ins and Pepsi Stuff, the site’s merchandise page.

“Lots of assets live on our pages,” John Vail, director of interactive marketing group for Pepsi-Cola North America said. “We wanted to make an easy way to find so consumers don’t have to hunt and peck.”

Pepsi.com was launched in 1996 and gets a facelift about every two years. The company said that the site receives about a million unique hits per month.

Each year, Pepsi North America seems to move even more of its marketing efforts to digital media. In 2007, the company spent about $17.5 million on digital media for its beverage brands, nearly doubling the amount spent in 2006 ($9.4 million), according to reports.

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Del Monte names Pearce its first CMO

BY Jenna Duncan

NEW YORK Del Monte Foods today announced that William Pearce will chair the newly created positions of company chief marketing officer and senior vice president.

“We’ve created the position of [chief marketing officer] to further elevate our focus on marketing strategy, innovation, and execution across our portfolio,” Del Monte chairman and chief executive officer, Rick Wolford, said in a news release. “This centralized organizational structure located in San Francisco will continue to build on our marketing success, enhancing marketing’s role in lead our future strategy.”

Wolford added that he “looks forward to leveraging [Pearce’s] proven track record of attracting top talent.”

Pearce joins Del Monte after serving as chief marketing officer at Taco Bell. Del Monte is currently working towards centralized marketing operations at the San Francisco headquarters, and also integrating pet and consumer marketing teams.

In addition to heading marketing operations, Pearce will also be responsible for covering pet and consumer campaigns, and package design and promotions.

Del Monte has not said whether it will up its marketing spending this year or not. But, in 2007, Del Monte’s advertising budget was around $18 million.

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