Stevia producer PureCircle has said that the number of product launches featuring stevia as an ingredient has gone up by 10% in a year.
Citing research from Mintel, PureCircle said that snacks, juice drinks, dairy products, carbonated soft drinks and confectionery were the five categories in which stevia launches were most common during 2017.
Producers of food and beverage products designed for children aged 5-12 are also making more use of stevia, as it enables them to formulate products with fewer calories, or no calories at all, using a plant-based sweetener. In 2017, the number of stevia-containing launches aimed at kids increased by 16% compared to 2016.
Coca-Cola, Danone, Grupo Bimbo, Kraft Heinz, Nestlé and PepsiCo were all among the companies to release new products that contained stevia.
Asia-Pacific and Europe were the most prolific markets for stevia launches, followed by Latin America, North America, and the Middle East and Africa.
The research has been made public days after Cargll unveiled a sweetener made from two compounds within the stevia leaf.
“The story of stevia is evolving,” a PureCircle spokesperson told FoodBev. “Not long ago, it was a little-known, plant-based sweetener – basically one ingredient – that worked well in some beverage and food applications.
“But today, we offer a range of stevia leaf sweetener ingredients with sugar-like taste and zero calories. These ‘from-nature’ sweeteners – often used in combinations with each other – work well in a wide variety of beverages and foods, and that is advantageous for beverage and food companies.
“They have an increasing need for just such an ingredient, because consumers, health experts and governments have become increasingly concerned about obesity and diabetes, and consumers have become increasingly health- and wellness-conscious.”
The data was revealed just two weeks before the deadline for UK-based beverage manufacturers and importers to register for a new sugar tax, which will levy a flat fee on all sugary soft drinks produced or imported into the country. It coincides exactly with similar legislation in Ireland.
Firms will have to pay £0.18 per litre for drinks with more than 5g of sugar per 100ml, or £0.24 for drinks with more than 8g. Irish companies will be hit with a nearly identical rate.
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