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Appetite for stevia brings Japan back to Paraguay

Stevia production is considered artisanal work in Paraguay. (Photo by Kamilia Lahrichi)

SAN VICENTE, Paraguay -- Facing growing competition for the natural sweetener stevia, Japan is seeking to corner production in Paraguay, the original source of the flavoring.

     Japan, the world's top consumer of stevia, halted imports from Paraguay over an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease among the Latin country's cattle in 2011. Japanese companies have instead been buying more stevia from China, now the source of 80% of the world's supply.

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