The Redefine Reports
Simplixify: Green fields
When redefining a market means creating a new one
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View the slideshow: Facts & Figures about Truvia™ rebiana and stevia
Insight. Some people think of it as the proverbial light bulb. A random act of brilliance. But Thomas Edison knew better. He said, “opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” In other words, you have to work at insight. A belief that Cargill took to heart when it set off on the road to launch of Truvia™ sweetener.
Did consumers want more choice?
In 2004, Cargill had a hunch: that there was unmet consumer demand for a great tasting, zero calorie sweetener from natural origins. And it had a candidate. A small team of Cargill employees working under the code name “Alfalfa” had investigated a high-intensity sweetener made from the leaves of a South American herb called stevia. The leaves had been used for centuries to sweeten beverages in South America and as a crude extract it has been used in Asia as a sweetener for decades.
The sweetness in the stevia leaf comes from glycosides. The plant makes about a dozen glycosides, and some are sweet while others are quite bitter. The team found a way to concentrate the glycoside, called reb-A, that provides the best tasting sweetness. Truvia™ sweetener is 97 percent reb-A, an ingredient named rebiana. But the team first had to verify that there was a market.
In 2006 and 2007, Cargill decided to test the idea. It conducted a consumer survey among 15,000 people on four continents and seven countries. It produced reams of data, both qualitative and quantitative. After sifting through the results, the verdict was clear: consumers around the globe wanted a new choice in zero calorie sweetness.
Search for balance
The data showed a demand that mirrored a larger, societal trend: the search for balance. Consumers and commercial customers were paying closer and
closer attention to where their food came from, how the people who grew it were treated and how the food was made and transported. There was a nascent desire for sustainable products and supply chain transparency. In short, they wanted to buy food products that didn’t throw the world off balance to make them.
This search for balance was also personal. Consumers have a complex relationship with sweetness that is best described as a combination of attraction and guilt. They wanted zero calorie and great taste in their sweetener. They didn’t want to have to choose between one and the other, between guilt and pleasure, health and happiness.
Growing a business with connectivity
Armed with this insight, Cargill went to work. This wasn’t the first time the company had been involved in a market in its infancy –or had to build a supply chain from the ground up. For more than 145 years, Cargill has been developing markets for food and food ingredients.
This experience gave Cargill an edge that it calls connectivity. It was the numerous connections within the company that made Truvia possible. While other companies are obliged to sign alliances and partnerships for research, applications, production and distribution, Cargill is the only company in the market to handle the product from Field to Table. For example, Cargill Flavor Systems played a key role in developing the tabletop product and is involved with numerous customers on flavour systems using rebiana or stevia components. Cargill Health & Nutrition provides the Zerose® erythritol that is part of the recipe of Truvia™ tabletop sweetener. These are only two of the many Cargill businesses that contributed to the brand’s success.
Speaking of success, the Truvia brand has rapidly established itself as one of the market’s leading zero calorie sweeteners.
The brand name is recognized by 60 per cent of female consumers in the US and the tabletop product has an eleven per cent share of the sugar substitute market. It is used today in juices, yogurt, ice cream, soft drinks and energy drinks, jam and mints made by many of the world’s leading food companies. Just two years after its launch, Truvia™ tabletop sweetener is poised to become the No. 2 zero-calorie sweetener in the consumer sugar substitute category in the US. Not bad for a hunch and a humble shrub from South America.