Truvia: Fast Company traces the journey of Cargill's "field to table" sweetener

From stevia to Truvia: Cargill's foray into the sweetener biz.
From stevia to Truvia: Cargill's foray into the sweetener biz.

Fast Company followed Zanna McFerson, Cargill's director of high-intensity, or diet, sweeteners, to tell the origin story of Cargill's popular new "natural" sweetener, Truvia. It's the first mainstream, commercial, zero-calorie sugar substitute that originates from a plant (the stevia plant, specifically) and it's already snatched an impressive 12% of the market share from Equal, Sweet 'n Low, etc., since its introduction a couple of years ago. (Here's how we thought it tasted.)

Among the many crazy tidbits gleaned from the story:

* Cargill employees secluded themselves in basement rooms with blacked-out windows, using code names--including "Lancelot" and "Cobalt." Seriously? It's a sweetener, people. OK, granted one with a global tabletop market of $3.3 billion a year and even trillions for the market for sweetening prepackaged foods.

* One teaspoon of refined rebiana (the stevia glycoside they extracted) was as sweet as roughly two cups of refined sugar, so the stuff is blended in erythritol, a sugar found in fermented fruit, to give it the same intensity of table sugar.

* Cargill marketers focused their Truvia efforts on the "Yoga Momma" demographic, a catch-all for the "typically harried but well-intentioned working woman."

* Some researchers speculate that the more sweetness we have in our diets, the more desensitized we will become--we will want to have more and more to feel satisfied.

* And, finally, this ridiculous anecdote, involving Oprah fans gone wild on Truvia: "At "O You!", a lifestyle seminar sponsored by O Magazine in Kansas City, Missouri, in October 2009, Cargill supplied 4,000 Truvia-dipped strawberries, enough for one per person. To her surprise, and then panic, McFerson quickly noticed that fans were flagging down servers for seconds, then thirds. She had to send caterers to fetch an additional 8,750 berries from a fleet of local grocery stores to satisfy the hungry crowds."

Sponsor Content


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >