Tate & Lyle expands its sustainable stevia programme with Earthwatch

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24 August 2022, London, UK: Tate & Lyle PLC (Tate & Lyle) has entered into the next phase of its sustainability programme for stevia, a plant-derived and in-demand low-calorie sweetener, by enrolling new farmers in China. The programme will support participating farmers to implement best practices identified in its 2019 stevia life-cycle-analysis and verified in its 2021 on-farm pilot.

  • Enrolling new stevia farmers in Dongtai, Jiangsu Province, East China, and Linze, Gansu Province, West China
  • Learnings from 2021 on-farm pilot to be adopted across participating farms
  • New voluntary stevia supplier sustainability commitment for participating farmers
Stevia farmers

A world leader in ingredient solutions for healthier food and beverages, Tate & Lyle partnered with environmental charity Earthwatch Europe (Earthwatch), working with Nanjing Agricultural University in East China, to develop the programme, which aims to ensure that the stevia industry grows sustainably.

The expanded programme follows an on-farm pilot undertaken in Dongtai in 2021 that focused on improving the environmental and social impacts of stevia production, based on the results of Tate & Lyle and Earthwatch’s life-cycle-analysis completed in 2019. The 2021 pilot aimed to reduce the impacts of fertiliser use and help farmers to understand soil health through regular, straightforward testing. In its first full year, the pilot programme saw promising reductions in all of the nine impact categories measured against the baseline, including a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and an improvement in metrics linked to local water quality1. The pilot also found that optimised fertiliser use can positively influence stevia productivity and steviol glycoside content, resulting in a greater proportion of the desirable sweet components used to make stevia ingredients, verifying findings from the 2019 study.

In 2022, an expanded cohort of farmers in Dongtai, Jiangsu Province, East China and additional stevia farmers in Linze, Gansu Province, West China will implement the agronomic practice changes piloted last year, and trial additional changes to further minimise their environmental footprint. With the stevia agricultural sector at a relatively early stage in its adoption of more sustainable practices, this science-led programme is helping to build the evidence base and demonstrate the positive environmental, social and economic impacts associated with these changes.

Participating growers will be supported to pursue sustainability-related verification for their stevia through the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform’s Farm Sustainability Assessment2 and have been encouraged to sign Tate & Lyle’s Stevia Supplier Sustainability Commitment3, a pledge to reduce the environmental impact of stevia farming. Growers signing the Commitment will be helped to understand better their environmental impact through sampling, assessments, and participation in workshops with a clear goal of reducing their environmental impact and improving productivity and profitability by implementing the recommendations from the analysis conducted.

Nick Hampton, Chief Executive of Tate & Lyle, said: “Supporting sustainable agriculture is front and centre of our plans to deliver on our commitment to be carbon net zero by 2050, to help our customers deliver on their carbon reduction commitments and to build a thriving farming community. Our stevia programme in China epitomises our purpose in action and is laying the groundwork for the sustainable development of the stevia industry. We are excited to share our lessons and experiences to strengthen sustainability in the stevia supply chain and help farmers to unlock economic benefits for their communities.”

Maria Pontes, Director of Programmes and Partnerships at Earthwatch Europe, commented: “This partnership, through its hands on approach to trialling change and sharing knowledge, has engaged farmers, encouraging them to improve the sustainability of their growing practices. We recognise the importance of supply chain resilience, so supporting growers and building a strong supplier network, while making a real change to the environment, is a priority. We really look forward to continuing to work with Tate & Lyle to develop this programme.”

Professor Luo, project lead from Nanjing Agricultural University in East China, said: “It’s very important to involve farmers in the demonstration of stevia slow-release fertiliser application as it helps them to better understand and believe in the practical technology and its value, improving their trust that this approach will benefit them, which in turn will move the sustainability programme forward. Participating farmers say that the optimised application of slow-release fertiliser technology, using this fertiliser once a whole growing season instead of multiple applications of different fertilisers, as they were previously, is making stevia farming easier.

“As we can see from the pilot results, this approach is benefiting the environment and stevia productivity too. Participating farmers hope that through Tate & Lyle’s programme they will be able to introduce other efficient farming solutions for stevia agricultural practices in different sections of seedling production, field management and harvesting, bringing more benefits to their farms.”

Ends

For more information contact:

Tate & Lyle PLC

Anna Taylor-Elphick, Senior Manager, Global Corporate PR
+44(0)7766361515 / mediarelations@tateandlyle.com

Earthwatch Europe

Josh Kubale, Senior Communications Manager
+44(0)7824 776 770/ jkubale@earthwatch.com

Notes to editors:

1. The 2021 pilot programme was conducted in Dongtai in Jianqsu Province, focusing on the use of fertilisers and helping them understand soil health through regular, straightforward testing. In its first full year, we saw promising reductions in all of the impact categories measured against the 2019 life cycle analysis baseline, notably:

  • 16% reduction in eutrophication a process in which a body of water becomes overly enriched with nutrients, therefore decreasing its quality*
  • 13% reduction in acidification potential, the measure of the potential increase in acidity of an ecosystem, which is linked to reduced soil health and water quality and lower crop yield*
  • 7% reduction in GHG emissions.*
    *Per pound of stevia rebaudioside A produced.
  • Results of the 2022 programme will be verified by conducting on site farm visits, analysis of potential benefits to farmers and farm communities, analysis of stevia plants, soil conditions and individual steviol glycosides.

2. Stevia growers will benefit from mentoring throughout the programme using the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform’s (SAI Platform) Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA), which assesses the continuous improvement of agricultural practices.

3. A stevia sustainability workshop was held in January 2022 and joined by more than 100 farmers who signed the Stevia Supplier Sustainability Commitment.
Tate & Lyle’s Stevia Supplier Sustainability Commitment:

As a supplier to Tate & Lyle, I am committed to reducing the environmental impact of stevia farming and enabling my community to thrive.

I commit to work with Tate & Lyle, Earthwatch, Nanjing Agricultural University and other stakeholders to better understand my environmental impact through sampling, assessments, and participation in workshops. My goal is to reduce my environmental impact by implementing the recommendations from the analysis conducted.

4. Tate & Lyle, in partnership with Earthwatch, will also conduct an impact assessment in Gansu, West China to identify the most promising opportunities for reducing environmental costs of stevia production, specific to that province.

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About Tate & Lyle: 
Tate & Lyle is a world leader in ingredient solutions for healthier food and beverages. Supported by our 160-year history of ingredient innovation, we partner with customers to provide consumers with healthier and tastier choices when they eat and drink. We are proud that millions of people around the world consume products containing our ingredients every day.

Through our expertise in sweetening, mouthfeel and fortification, we develop solutions which reduce sugar, calories and fat, add fibre and protein, and provide texture and stability in categories including beverages, dairy, bakery, soups, sauces and dressings.

We have more than 3,500 employees working in around 57 locations across 39 countries. Tate & Lyle's purpose is Transforming Lives Through the Science of Food and through our purpose we believe we can successfully grow our business and have a positive impact on society. We live our purpose in three ways, by supporting healthy living, building thriving communities and caring for our planet.

Tate & Lyle is listed on the London Stock Exchange under the symbol TATE.L. American Depositary Receipts trade under TATYY. In the year to 31 March 2022, Tate & Lyle revenue from continuing operations totalled £1.4 billion. For more information, please visit https://www.tateandlyle.com or follow Tate & Lyle on TwitterLinkedin or Facebook.