Wal-Mart, the world’s biggest retailer, has said it intends to carry an own-brand version of Tate & Lyle’s low-calorie Splenda sweetener in outlets across the US by the end of the month.

Wal-Mart has tested its version of the sucralose sugar substitute under the brand name Altern in various stores throughout the US and has decided to offer it to consumers in its supercentres, which number almost 2000 stores accross the nation.

This will be the first time that an alternative to Splenda will appear on the shelves, as Tate & Lyle have thus far successfully defended its patents on the calorie-free sucralose sweetener. The company said on Tuesday (14 February) that it was looking into whether Altern infringes Tate & Lyle patents.

Tate & Lyle which has invested heavily in the development of the artificial sweetener to offset declining sugar prices and appeal to health conscious consumers. Splenda is a highly lucrative product accounting for 4% of Tate & Lyle sales and 22% of the company’s profits.

Nonetheless, Tate & Lyle is playing down the threat of a low-cost Splenda alternative. Echoing the message given out in Tuesday’s statement, Ferne Hudson, head of media and public relations told just-food: “Even if the product were to be launched nationally, it would have no material effect.”

Although, she added, this is not to say that it would have no effect: “We know how much of our revenue comes from Splenda and the company does not anticipate that the launch of an alternative product would have negative consequences of any magnitude.”