Let them drink Stevia!
May 17, 2010 3:12 PM   Subscribe

How can I get rich off of Stevia?

Investment Noob Filter- With scrutiny of HFCs increasing (as well as a growing awareness of the dangers of obesity), it seems like Stevia is well posed to hit it big- how far off can a Pepsi Stevia Blue be, for instance? Investment seems like the best idea but how do we find companies to invest in? I've looked a bit but I'm so damned new to investing I've just got no idea, thanks for any input!
posted by my homunculus is drowning to Work & Money (19 answers total)
The big companies already know about Stevia. The reason there is no Pepsi Stevia is because Stevia tastes terrible.

(As an aside, my favorite low-calorie sweetener is erythritol. .2 calories per gram, tastes just like sugar, and doesn't cause the negative side effects that xylitol does. Why it isn't more popular is very confusing to me.)
posted by jrockway at 3:31 PM on May 17, 2010

Pepsi and Coke do know about it already.
posted by cabingirl at 3:34 PM on May 17, 2010

Nthing the idea that stevia's flavor is the problem. I can't stand the taste of it and prefer agave. If someone can mask the flavor, perhaps that's a way in?

If you want to find companies to invest in, try searching for stevia on sites like this about the food industry and research the companies that are producing it.
posted by jardinier at 3:35 PM on May 17, 2010

I'd say that you're a bit late. I work for the largest natural and organic food retailer in the U.S. We
have been selling stevia-sweetened products, including soda, for some time. If you can, visit natural / organic product retailers to understand what the stevia product line is today (and taste the stuff--you may have second thoughts.) Stevia is popular with those who eat a 'natural' diet, since it is derived from a plant, not a chemical factory. However, the product line is somewhat meager. Maybe there will be opportunities in stevia-sweetened brownies or chocolate bars, but those might already be in the pipeline, but I don't know about any shortcomings of stevia when used in products other than beverages.

On preview, yeah, the taste.
posted by namret at 3:50 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

I agree Stevia isn't the best tasting thing ever. . . but I did just down a few six packs of Blue Sky Free (which incidentally lists erythritol as its #2 ingredient, jrockway - so you might be on to something) and it wasn't too bad. 95% of the sodas taste like garbage to me anyway whether they're HFC or aspartame flavoured, so I'm not sure the taste is the biggest issue here.

Thanks for the links cabingirl - I found Truvia on the website jardinier provided- it's the form of Stevia used by Coke in the linked to product announcement from 2008(?), all this info seems slightly dated (two years! oh how time flies these days) but it sounds like something to explore. Thanks for the leads :)
posted by my homunculus is drowning at 4:03 PM on May 17, 2010

Agricultural commodities produced on an industrial scale require a significant capital investment. I don't mean to sound snarky, but if you're asking this question here you likely don't have access to the capital required to produce industrial quantities of stevia.

And, like others have said, the big companies, primarily Coca-Cola and Pepsi, are already hot on the trail, so to speak.

There may be commodity funds or ETFs or some other type of financial security which holds securities of companies involved in its manufacture. Wikipedia has some slim information here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stevia#Commercialization

I'd google the companies and products at that link and see what information you can find. But you're not going to get in at the ground floor.
posted by dfriedman at 4:07 PM on May 17, 2010

I can tell you that one of the mainstream stevia-based sweeteners out right now is made by Cargill, so that's one way to make money off stevia: be a giant agribusiness juggernaut.
posted by padraigin at 4:10 PM on May 17, 2010

FWIW, I can't stand stevia in any drinks. The only non sugar and HFCS sweetener I like don't mind is agave.
posted by wongcorgi at 4:14 PM on May 17, 2010

I can't invest in Cargill since they are private, amirite? I'm not really interested in being a giant agribusiness, myself, but buying a few stocks in one sounds pretty good :D

Here in Portland Oregon locally and organically grown products have a big following so I'm open to growing it myself but it sounds like no one really uses stevia in its natural form, probably due to some of the taste people have commented on. Hmmm.
posted by my homunculus is drowning at 4:17 PM on May 17, 2010

Pepsi is already on the Stevia bandwagon, at least with their Aquafina brand. Aquafina+ 10cal Vitamin Water. Maybe it's Canada only? It's been marketed as using stevia, but reading the label, it appears erythritol is actually the second ingredient. "reb A", apparently a "PureVia brand natural stevia product" is 9th on the ingredient list.
posted by cgg at 4:54 PM on May 17, 2010

Agave nectar is sugar. If you are using it as a sugar substitute, you're not substituting much. And it has as much or more fructose than high-fructose corn syrup.

There won't be too much interest in stevia among consumers, I'll wager, because we now have sucralose (Splenda), the holy grail of non-nutritive sweeteners. There is excellent support for its safety, and it tastes fine.
posted by kindall at 5:06 PM on May 17, 2010

Very anecdotally, one of the toxicologists I work with started using Stevia, then read a bunch of the toxicological studies on it and decided to go back to sugar (and just use less of it). So maybe it won't take off as exponentially as one might think, especially with all of the competition out there.
posted by ldthomps at 5:25 PM on May 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

Forget about it.

Stevia won't be such a bug business that it makes sense to build an investment strategy on it. It is a well known plant and can't be patented. Coca Cola (or Pepsi?) patented a process of purifying a special alkaloid from the plant out of the several that makes it taste sweet. If you are using only this single substance the sweet taste is better. So your best bet would be to invest in this company. I would recommend against it.

I googled it: http://www.sweetpoison.com/articles/0607/cocacola_cargill_inc_pate.html
posted by yoyo_nyc at 5:35 PM on May 17, 2010

Here's a list of stocks that compete in the "Sweeteners" category. I don't cover this sector, so I'm only copying from a list I found:

Associated British Foods (LSE: ABF)
Archer Daniels Midland (NYSE: ADM)
Agrana Beteiligungs (Vienna: AGR)
Corn Products (NYSE: CPO)
Illovo Sugar (SA: ILV)
Suedzucker (XETRA: SZU)
Tate & Lyle (LSE: TATE)
Tongaat Huleet (SA: TON)

This list obviously includes manufacturers of HCFS (CPO, duh) and regular old sugar, but I suppose if you research these names you'll figure out who's got an edge in the replacement sweetener.
posted by mullacc at 6:15 PM on May 17, 2010

Stevia in soft drinks and other food items are common in Asia. Here's one ref. Stevia tasting horrible is incredibly subjective, many people are fine with it. Personally, I find it different, but no worse than Aspartame.
posted by kch at 6:56 PM on May 17, 2010

Stevia's taste depends on the brand. I thought Stevia was awful until I tasted NuNaturals brand. Too much of it is bitter, though. It's frequently used in conjunction with erythritol. I cook with both a lot and it's been steadily catching on in low-carb circles.
posted by Nattie at 7:53 PM on May 17, 2010

Start a coffee shop that specializes in making frothy drinks sweetened with stevia! Coffee masks stevia's bitterness pretty well, at least when I've had it.
posted by miyabo at 9:51 PM on May 17, 2010

Personally I think the agribusiness juggernauts are on the way out. They rely on cheap transportation costs and industrial fertilizers to make their margin and that is dependent on the price of oil.

If someone were to market locally grown stevia to local business's, I think there is room at this point for a small entrepreneur.-especially with value added products like drinks or foods. Of course I enjoy small risky ventures and know going in that most new ventures fail.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 12:32 AM on May 18, 2010

Stevia's illegal in the UK due to health concerns. Just a heads up.
posted by Not Supplied at 1:01 AM on May 18, 2010

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