A Bulacan-based entrepreneur wants to change the Philippine beverage sector by introducing Stevia-sweetened drinks for diabetic consumers and those with sensitive stomach.
Maura ‘Au’ De Leon, the founder and chief executive of Glorious Industrial Development Corp., is on a mission to “reduce the risk of diabetes among Filipinos and provide livelihood opportunities to our local farmers.”
GIDC, The Stevia Company is the first grower, toll manufacturer, distributor and retailer of Stevia products in the Philippines. It is the company behind Sweet & Fit and Glorious Blend products that include low-calorie, non-acidic, no sugar-added and anti-oxidant sweeteners, coffee mixes, tea and juices.
De Leon says Stevia is recognized as safe for consumption and is preferred as a healthier alternative to sugar from sugarcane. It also helps reduce the risk of diabetes.
Stevia, which belongs to the sunflower family, is originally from Paraguay. It is a natural sweetener derived from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant. It is 300 times sweeter than sugar, but does not cause spikes in blood sugar levels. It is also considered better than chemical-based artificial sweeteners because it does not have any aftertaste or carries potential health risks.
The company, which has offices in Bulacan and Caloocan City, ventured into Stevia farming using seedlings from Paraguay in 2004. “We were encouraged to venture into farming, because were also once farmers,” she says.
“We support our local farmers and workers because all of our products are grown and manufactured here. The market’s continued support sends their children to school and improves the quality of their lives,” says De Leon.
The Food and Drug Administration certified Sweet & Fit Stevia in 2009. GIDC was recognized as the first Stevia company in the Philippines and became ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System certified in 2017.
GIDC runs a three-hectare compound in Bocaue, Bulacan that includes a Stevia farm, production facilities, a restaurant and events venue. It is also engaged in toll manufacturing of Stevia sweeteners for various establishments and now expands its lineup of products under Glorious Blend and Sweet & Fit brands.
“Today, we are launching new products—ready for export and the local market,” De Leon says, referring to Glorious 3in1 Premium Coffee, Glorious Iced Tea Mixes and Sweet & Fit Stevia Tea.
“Glorious 3in1 Premium Coffee is very ready for export,” says De Leon. “We are also launching Glorious Cucumber Juice, Cucumber Iced Tea and our best-seller Glorious Red Tea.”
“The good thing about our products is the combination of health benefits that they provide and our advocacy to help. They are always together. Today, we support about 30 scholars, on top of the 10 scholars who have already graduated from college.”
“We also support sick individuals by providing them capital for their businesses,” says De Leon.
De Leon says GIDC’s mission is to help diabetic consumers manage their condition, while enjoying natural products produced by the company.
“It began 19 years ago when I thought about how we can help the diabetics. I hope that it is not ambitious to say that our goal is to have every household with diabetic members use Stevia products,” she says.
“Now, we are able to make many diabetic persons smile because they enjoy our health products that include coffee, chocolate, peanut butter, juices and our latest product—Stevia tea,” she says.
“There are so many diabetic individuals in our country. Our goal is to introduce Glorious products to the youth and inform them about healthy lifestyle, and introduce to them as early as possible the benefits of using Stevia,” says De eon.
“It is important that we inform the whole Philippines that we have Stevia products that you can trust. That is our tagline–from leaves to our products, we can honestly say that Stevia is the sweetener you can trust,” she says.
De Leon says GIDC, which has more than 200 employees and supports 30 families of farmers in Bulacan, is prepared to meet the growing demand for natural sweeteners and fill the gap in the event of tight sugar supply in the country.
“We can meet the demand for sweeteners in the country. GIDC aso continues its research and development. We are also ready for export,” she says.
“By making premium and healthy products accessible to Filipinos, GIDC, The Stevia Company is helping everyone make better choices for their health,” says De Leon.
Other Glorious products are 4-in1 Malunggay-based coffee; 5in1 Coffee Mix with Brown Rice; 7in1 Coffee Mix with Malunggay, Mangosteen, Calcium, Goto Kola and sweetened with Sweet & Fit Stevia. Glorious products are available in leading supermarkets and convenience stores nationwide.