Why stevia appears to be winning the race to replace sugar

Dive Brief:

  • With its low calorie count, natural sweetness and success as an ingredient in several new products, reporters from Food Ingredients First believe stevia is winning the battle to replace sugar.
  • According to data from Innova Market Insights, 6% of new soda launches last year used stevia as an ingredient. About 63% of new product launches with stevia last year also made clean label claims.
  • Several companies are producing new stevia-based sweeteners to further grow the marketplace and expand the ingredient's reach.

Dive Insight:

As sugar continues to fall out of consumer favor, manufacturers have been quick to bring different stevia-based products to the market to fill the void. According to Grand View Research, the global stevia market is rapidly expanding, with an estimated size of $337.7 million in 2015.

With many natural sweeteners vying for tomorrow's market dominance, stevia has a lot in its favor. As far as its chemical composition, it has few calories and no carbohydrates. It's also 30 to 40 times sweeter than sugar, meaning a little goes a long way. It's relatively easy to grow and can be cultivated nearly anywhere. And, unlike previously popular artificial sweeteners like aspartame, stevia is 100% natural, meeting consumers' clean label desires.

Stevia's sweetness comes from several naturally occurring glycosides, and the market is ripe for different chemicals to be isolated and turned into their own sweetener products.

One of the downsides of stevia is its aftertaste — Pepsi and other soft drink manufacturers have received complaints about stevia-sweetened product launches. But new developments with the glycosides and stevia production could make those complaints history. Bestevia, created by Sweegen, uses the Reb-M glycoside, which is being secretly tested by a large soda company as well as major manufacturers. With trials so large, consumers are presumably tasting stevia in many applications without knowing it — a major boon to the ingredient.

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Filed Under: Ingredients