NEW YORK (Reuters) - Major food suppliers and trade houses have been diving into the stevia market since 2008, when U.S. regulators deemed sweeteners made from the South American plant safe for consumption.
Below are some key players in this growing market.
Archer Daniels Midland Co, a major player in the U.S. corn syrup market and global commodities trade, this month completed a $3-billion acquisition of Wild Flavors, looking to expand in the fast-growing "natural" markets.
ASR Group, the world's largest vertically-integrated sugar refiner, launched its first stevia product, a blend of sugar and stevia, in February 2012.
The company, which produces some of the world's top-selling sugar brands including Domino Sugar, C&H Sugar, and Tate & Lyle, will launch its first zero-calorie stevia product this year.
In 2008, Cargill Inc. [CARG.UL] launched Truvia, a mix of erythritol and stevia, in the United States. It is now the U.S. market leader.
Cargill targeted the home-baking market with the launch of a white sugar-stevia blend in 2012 and a brown sugar-stevia blend last month.
In 2013, China's state-owned grains trader agreed to a strategic collaboration with GLG Life Tech. Corp., a Vancouver company, on research and development of food and beverage products and marketing of stevia extracts.
The Brooklyn-based maker of Sweet'N Low introduced a stevia product in 2008, followed by Agave In The Raw in 2010 and Monk Fruit In the Raw in 2012. Its Stevia In The Raw, a mix of maltodextrin and stevia leaf extract, is one of the top U.S. brands.
One of the top U.S. cane sugar refiners started working with stevia in 2010, prior to being bought by commodities trader Louis Dreyfus Corp. [LOUDR.UL] in 2012.
Imperial Sugar now sells low-calorie sugar-stevia blended sweeteners.
Merisant Co. [MERWOM.UL], the maker of Equal, introduced its Pure Via stevia sweetener in 2009 in the United States and subsequently in France, where it is the market leader.
Olam International Ltd. owns a stake in PureCircle, a leading supplier of stevia sweetener to top brands.
Tate & Lyle Plc launched a stevia product in 2012. The company warned last month of lower profits in the second half, in part due to lower prices and increased competition in the sucralose market.
(This story corrects to say Olam owns a stake in PureCircle; also corrects to say Agave In The Raw launched in 2010)
Reporting by Chris Prentice and Marcy Nicholson