Japan reopened its doors to stevia imports from Paraguay and committed itself to buy the countries entire stevia production. The commitment translates to Japan roughly buying 600-700 tons a year at a value of about US$1-1.5bn. Translated to it’s sugar equivalent this is about 90,000 10,5000 tons of sugar.
Japan’s commitment offers a great opportunity for small Paraguayan farmers, however giant cooperation like Coca-Cola (in alliance with sugar giant Cargill) are also intending to start their own mass production of the plant in Paraguay. How this pans out for smaller farmers remains to be seen.
Stevia production is still relatively low while demand is ever increasing. Currently China caters for about 80% of total stevia production, however Paraguay has a clear advantage over China as it can harvest up to 4 crops a year and China only one. Due to professionalization in the stevia market, China is seeing increased competition from other areas around the world including amongst others Paraguay and Kenya.
Source: TelesurTV & International Sugar Journal