Stevia has enjoyed rapid global growth in recent years, taking its overall market value past $350 million, according to a new report by leading food and drink consultancy Zenith International.
Zenith market analyst Dr Nouf Jeynes said: “Greater public concern about obesity means that consumers are showing more interest in intense sweeteners. As a result, product reformulations to replace calories are steadily increasing.
“Stevia has now gained widespread regulatory approval, but still has a number of challenges to overcome. In particular, some consumers question the naturalness of sweeteners as part of a drive towards healthy lifestyles. Manufacturers are focusing on developing products that maintain the benefits of a natural zero- calorie sweetener without the downside of any aftertaste.
“China is the main exporter of stevia accounting for more than 45% of volume in 2015. Competition is expected to intensify as a result of expanding stevia cultivation regions and advancing fermentation technology.”
Originating from Paraguay, where the stevia leaf has been valued for centuries, stevia has been used as a sweetener in Japan and parts of South America for decades.
The high-intensity sweetener offers a sweetening power some 300 times that of table sugar, without adding any calories. For this reason, stevia is increasingly being used as an ingredient in finished products, in particular, soft drinks which has seen a significant increase in the number of stevia-based products launched in 2015.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2017