Stevia supplier loses $18.5 million in year

by Jeff Gelski
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KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA — PureCircle, a producer and marketer of stevia products, suffered a loss after tax of $18.5 million in the fiscal year ended June 30, which compared with net income after tax of $1.2 million in the previous fiscal year, the company said Sept. 19. Fiscal-year revenue dropped 12% to $53.3 million from $60.8 million because of delays in both European Union approval and the launch of carbonated soft drinks with stevia.

PureCircle, based in Kuala Lumpur, expected the European Union to approve stevia for use as a sweetener in foods and beverages in early 2011 and still expects approval later this year. PureCircle temporarily has reduced inventory to levels better aligned with current market use.

The slowdown in production will continue into the first half of fiscal year 2012, said Paul Selway-Swift, chairman, and Magomet Malsagov, chief executive officer.

“High-purity stevia is still a young market, being less than 3 years old,” Mr. Selway-Swift said. “Consumer demand is accelerating in all open markets. With more new markets due to open in the next 12 months, notably the E.U., consumer demand will increase further. As demand reaches critical mass we will be well placed to lead the industry profitably.

“We remain confident in the long-term future of stevia, but it remains a mid- to long-term growth story, and there may continue to be some sales and profit volatility along the way.”
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