Stevia producer PureCircle said today (19 September) that it swung into the red in its last financial year, hurt by a move to scale back production.

For the year to the end of June, PureCircle reported net losses of US$18.5m compared to profits of $1.2m in the previous year. EBITDA dropped by 50.5% to $5.2m.

Net sales in the period also dropped, by 12.3% to $53.3m. The company said its results were impacted by “the tough but important decisions” taken to reduce production until inventories are “better aligned with current market demand”.

“Having scaled production across 2009 and 2010 to demonstrate that high purity stevia could be produced in mass market volumes, it was right to slow production in FY 2011,” the company said. “Our decisions will generate stronger cashflow and provide further headroom on our cash and banking facilities.”

Nonetheless, PureCircle chairman Paul Swift said he still expects sales to benefit from “the growing retail consumption of stevia”, and that he remains confident about the long-term future for the natural sweetener.