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Pure Via Stevia sweetener

Natural sugar substitute has no calories; marketed for baking and tea drinking

Now that Health Canada has given the green light to let the natural sweetener stevia be used in everyday foods, we can expect to see stevia brands popping up on shelves.

One such brand is Pure Via, made by the U.S.-based Whole Earth Sweetener Co.

Pure Via is launching three sweetener products into Canada this spring made from the stevia plant.

• Pure Via Stevia is a sugar substitute sold in boxes containing 50 one-gram sachets. The company says that each sachet delivers the same sweetness as two teaspoons of sugar, but without calories and only one gram of carbohydrates per serving. Suggested retail price is $4.49

• Pure Via Stevia Granulated has a coarse texture for use in cooking and baking. Cup-for-cup it measures out like sugar and is sold in 275-gram bags (retail price of $11.99).

• Pure Via Turbinado Raw Cane Sugar and Stevia Blend combines stevia with turbinado raw cane sugar. The product is described as a golden brown sweetener with a crunchy taste. It comes in a box of 100 sachets. (retail price, $6.99).

Cheryl Gill, director of marketing for the Pure Via brand in Chicago, says Pure Via hit Loblaw stores in March and should be available at other retailers in Canada in June.

“People are looking to eat more natural and also watch their calories,” she said.

Gill said her company plans to market the Pure Via brand to consumers through print advertising and trial. It will especially promote stevia as an ideal sweetener for tea.  Pure Via has a partnership with Tetley to do joint marketing, which could include in-store sampling or direct mail to consumers.

Gill said that although stevia may be new in Canada, it has taken off in the U.S., where the Food and Drug Administration approved the product in 2008.

“There’s been double-digit growth every month,” she said.

The Whole Earth Sweetener Co. is a subsidiary of Merisant Company, which also makes the sugar substitute Equal.

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