|Wednesday, 25 November, 2015, 08 : 00 AM [IST]|
|Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru|
|Stevia World Agrotech Pvt. Ltd, an agro technology company, will now launch stevia in sachets under the brand name ‘Healthy Leaf.’
The move to process stevia came after the recent amendment to relevant regulations following approval of the medicinal plant by the Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) in February this year.
The company founded in 2013 by US returned engineers Manjunath Mandikal and Ranganath Krishnan believed that stevia would be a game changer in the global sweetener industry.
“With formal FSSAI approval in February 2015, we are ready with our products to enter the market. We currently have sachets and jars under our brand name ‘Cerovia.’There is also a baking mix ‘SweetXX’ in pouches (250 gm). We are also ready with handpicked dry stevia leaves to be sold under ‘Healthy Leaf’ brand,” said Mandikal, director, Stevia World Agrotech Pvt. Ltd.
“It has been proven that the use of dry stevia leaves directly as a part of tea or on its own has many medicinal values. It is proven to have anti-microbial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective properties, and also it is supposed to rejuvenate pancreatic beta cells to produce more insulin in the body. It also has beneficial effects on the skin, increases the haemoglobin content in the blood and is tooth- friendly,” he added.
Stevia is not just a natural alternative, but a healthy alternative, as it contains zero calories, zero carbohydrates, zero gluten and has zero glycemic index. It can be used in both hot and cold beverages, cooking and baking applications, sweets, ice cream and confectionery as a healthy replacement for sugar. It is 100 per cent natural and vegetarian.
Speaking about its potential in India, Mandikal informed that India is almost considered as the diabetic capital of the world. “Some studies show that one in three Indians, above the age of 40, is either diabetic or in pre-diabetic condition. We can imagine the market size with this. Probably, India and USA would be very big markets for stevia.”
The plant is named after the 16th century botanist Petrus Jacobus Stevus. Stevia is a plant native to South America, mainly to Paraguay, where it has been used as a medicinal plant for over 1,500 years by local Guaraní Indians. Dr Moises S Bertoni discovered the sweetness in stevia and introduced it to the world in 1901. Stevia cultivation started in India between 2004 and 2006, but failed miserably due to three reasons. Firstly, it was not approved in most of the countries as food additive at that time. Secondly the extraction technology was not developed. Thirdly quality planting material with higher TSG (Total Steviol Glycosides) which determines the sweetness content in the leaves was unavailable, according to the director.
“Since then the scenario has changed considerably. Over 150 countries have now approved the use of stevia as a food additive. Extraction technology is advanced. In fact, India now has five to six researchers who have received their doctoral degrees in this field. There is access to better planting materials like Morita1, Morita 2, etc. With an alarming increase in lifestyle disorders like diabetes, obesity together with improved awareness on bad effects of artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose, low calorie, low glycemic foods, natural source of sweetness is the need of the hour,” noted Mandikal.