Sugar substitute gets sweet on Mexican market

WAYZATA, Minn. — Sugar substitute Truvia will expand beyond U.S. borders, bringing its stevia sweeteners to Mexico.

Truvia has joined forces with Grupo Herdez, a market leader in the production, distribution, and sale of foods in Mexico, to distribute and market Truvia sweetener in Mexico. Truvia, which recently branched into Canada, will now have a presence throughout North America in 2013, although it could face an uphill battle in Mexico where artificial sweeteners have yet to catch on with consumers.

"We are pleased with the rapid acceptance of Truvia sweetener around the world, and our strategic agreement with Grupo Herdez enables us to further expand our global presence," said Zanna McFerson, VP and business director for the Truvia business. "With the market opening in Canada , Truvia sweetener is the only stevia brand to be available across North America , Venezuela and select countries in Europe in 2013."

Truvia sweetener touts itself as the number one calorie-free sweetener from a natural source in the U.S., UK and Venezuela. The Truvia brand has attracted new consumers to the market and grown a previously stagnant retail category of sugar substitute sweeteners by more than 20%.

Truvia expects its sweetner to take off in the Mexican market with the help of Grupo Herdez's business model of leveraging partnerships of leading brands to add scale, reach, industry know-how and best practices. Grupo Herdez will contribute its local marketing expertise to the Truvia brand to build consumer awareness through advertising and in-store campaigns.

"We are excited to add Truvia sweetener to our portfolio of premium brands," said Hector Hernandez-Pons, chairman and CEP of Grupo Herdez. "The demand for a calorie-free sweetener from a natural source has grown with consumers' expectations around understanding the source of their food. Our strategic agreement with the Truvia business, the leader in its category, will keep our products relevant to consumers by acknowledging their needs and preferences."

But will it be enough in a nation that holds its cane sugar near and dear? Beverages bottled in Mexico and sweetened with cane sugar have found a market in the United States, for example, and continue to gain popularity among consumers who claim refined cane sugar-sweetened beverages taste more natural.

Still, as concerns about diabetes and other health-related issues proliferate worldwide, it will be interesting to see how Truvia fares in Mexico. The Truvia stevia leaf extract can already be found in a variety of beverages and foods, including juices, sparkling beverages and yogurts, and in brands such as Glaceau's VitaminWater Zero, certain Smucker's Sugar Free Jams and Kraft's Crystal Light Pure.