Stevia product launches have grown alongside consumers’ recognition of the “natural origin sweetener” label.
The percentage of global beverage product introductions with stevia grew by 161% between 2012 and 2017, compared to global food launches using the sweetener, which increased by 57% during the same five-year period.
Mintel research found that 9% of products used stevia in 2010 when Acesulfame potassium (ace-K), sucralose and aspartame dominated the market. As of August 2017, the percentage of product introductions using stevia hit 27%, surpassing aspartame.
Of the total new F&B products launched with stevia in the second quarter of 2017, 40% of launches were in Asia Pacific, 21% in Europe, 19% in North America, 17% in Latin America, and 3% in Middle East Africa.
PureCircle, a manufacturer of stevia sweeteners, recently expanded its Malaysian stevia extract facility to keep up with the sharp rise in demand for the stevia.
Stevia consumer familiarity
Mintel also found that consumers are more familiar with stevia and where the sweetener comes from compared to other sweeteners.
“With stevia being a relative newcomer to world of sweetening ingredients, we have seen awareness for stevia grow alongside stevia launches,” Carolyn Clark, director of global marketing at PureCircle, told BeverageDaily.
“For example, in the US, just one year after stevia was approved in 2009, awareness was 35%. By 2015 it has doubled to almost 70%.”
The research also showed that consumers regard stevia as a “natural” sweetener compared to other high-intensity sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose.
“Based on current trends, we project the adoption of stevia in food and beverage products to continue to grow alongside consumer demand for plant-based, low to zero calorie products,” Clark said.
Stevia drinks launches
Carbonated soft drinks accounted for 9% of global stevia launches in the second quarter of 2017. Within the soda category, the percentage of products introduced with stevia grew by 27% between Q216 and Q217.
Similarly, juice drinks also made up 9% of stevia products launches and grew by 27% over the same period.
Sports and energy drinks also experienced a surge in the use of stevia, posting a 102% increase in new product launches using the plant-based sweetener.
Among new product introductions using stevia, beverage manufacturers have used the sweetener to achieve both full- and partial-sugar reductions, Clark added.