BioVittoria’s Monk Fruit Extract in New Natural Sweetener From McNeil Nutritionals

The launch of NECTRESSE™ Natural No Calorie Sweetener, a tabletop sweetener made with monk fruit extract, has New Zealand company BioVittoria celebrating.

McNeil Nutritionals, LLC, (McNeil), a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, has launched the new sweetener in the United States with the help of renowned journalist and product spokesperson Lisa Ling.

McNeil is a global marketer of innovative nutritional products, including VIACTIV® Dietary Supplements, LACTAID® Milk and Dietary Supplements, BENECOL® Products and SPLENDA® Sweeteners, the No. 1 selling branded low calorie sweetener in the United States.

NECTRESSE™ Sweetener derives its natural sweetness from monk fruit (also known as luo han guo), a small green melon that has been cultivated in Asia for hundreds of years. BioVittoria produces more than 90% of the world’s supply of monk fruit extract and juice products.

BioVittoria’s chief executive David Thorrold says the company is delighted that, after extensive consumer testing, McNeil chose monk fruit extract for its new natural table-top sweetener.

“NECTRESSE™ Sweetener is a truly unique product that offers delicious, no calorie sweetness from a natural fruit source,” Thorrold says. “Having the market leader launching a table top product made from monk fruit is going to create tremendous consumer awareness and really will take monk fruit into the mainstream.”

Thorrold says BioVittoria’s strategic partner global ingredients company Tate & Lyle played an important role: “Through our partnership with Tate & Lyle we have been able to offer McNeil great ingredient innovation, backed by our unique, world-class monk fruit supply chain.”

Thorrold is confident NECTRESSE™ Sweetener is going to be a success: “Truly game-changing products like NECTRESSE™ Sweetener don’t come along very often. Consumers have long desired a natural zero calorie sweetener that offers the rich taste of sugar. Monk fruit extract delivers natural great-tasting sweetness, without all the calories, and it is made from real fruit using a simple three step process. We believe NECTRESSE™ Sweetener made with monk fruit extract will change the way people think about sweeteners.”

BioVittoria, which is headquartered at the Waikato Innovation Centre in New Zealand, works cooperatively with the Chinese government at both the national and provincial level and operates there through a joint venture company. BioVittoria has a 3,000 member grower network based around Guilin in Northern Guangxi Province, the traditional home of monk fruit, and operates a vertically integrated value chain from seedling production through to finished product.

Wellington-based private equity firm EIP Nominees (Endeavour Capital) remains BioVittoria’s largest shareholder. Other investors, apart from Tate & Lyle, include New Zealand’s Accident Compensation Corporation, Stephen Tindall’s K1W1 fund and the government-backed NZ Venture Investment Fund. NZTE has also provided support.

Neville Jordan, executive chairman of Endeavour Capital, says McNeil Nutritional’s decision to develop a new natural sweetener with BioVittoria’s China-sourced monk fruit shows New Zealand companies can develop solutions for international customers by looking for innovative ways to partner locally developed technology and know-how.