Stevia, a pure sweetener derived from the leaves of the stevia rebaudiana plant, is about 200 to 300 occasions sweeter than sugar, but has no affect on the glycemix index and doesn’t include any energy. Its use in industrial purposes goes again to the Seventies, when stevia was used as a substitute for synthetic sweeteners comparable to saccharin, coming into the Japanese after which the US meals industries. Right this moment, the stevia market is estimated to have a worth of greater than US$770m, having grown at a CAGR of practically 10% since 2017 in keeping with Statista.
It’s straightforward to see why the sweetener is in style amongst producers, who’ve marketed it as a clean-label ingredient and a sugar various for health-conscious customers. This technique seems to be working effectively – in keeping with shopper analysis carried out by Tate & Lyle Europe, 4 in 10 European customers aged between 18 and 35 are more likely to buy a dairy product that accommodates stevia. The analysis has additionally proven that a couple of third (34%) of customers in the identical age group assume that dairy merchandise include an excessive amount of sugar.
So the duty for producers could be to sort out that picture of high-sugar content material to attraction to those customers. And that is the place stevia’s attraction lies.
“There may be additionally a wider development in direction of meals that solely accommodates pure substances,” explains Delphine Forejt, class improvement supervisor for dairy at Tate & Lyle Europe. “In step with this, there’s a extra constructive notion of plant-based sweeteners. Thrice as many customers say they discover merchandise containing plant-based sweeteners interesting in comparison with synthetic sweeteners. And we additionally know many customers affiliate plant-based sweeteners with a pleasing style.
“Stevia is an more and more in style choice as a result of it brings collectively these traits, being plant-based while delivering on sugar discount and style, rising its attraction to a broader vary of customers.”
In fact, it’s not all positives on the sweetener panorama, though pure sweeteners are seen extra favorably than synthetic ones. Apparently, when stevia is listed as ‘steviol glycoside’, some customers could now not acknowledge its plant-based credentials, Forejt famous. “Schooling is vital right here,” she mentioned. “Greater than half (54%) of adults wish to know extra about how sweeteners are made. If producers and ingredient producers can clearly spotlight stevia’s credentials, this could enhance its attraction to customers.”
Within the European Union, all conventional extracts can now be labelled as ‘sweetener (steviol glycosides from stevia)’, which ought to assist customers perceive that stevia is comprised of the eponymous plant.
Attracting customers to low-calorie, nice tasting formulations
Within the dairy and dairy-alternatives trade, 61% of stevia-containing merchandise launched between 2019 and 2021 had been yogurts – merchandise which might be usually related to well being advantages in keeping with Tate & Lyle’s shopper survey. “Nevertheless, the shift is broader than any particular product and displays the continued demand for more healthy choices,” Forejt advised us. “Producers throughout the class are having to answer this. For instance, in recent times we’ve seen important progress in areas comparable to low-calorie ice lotions.
“These low-calorie merchandise are getting used to attraction to more and more health-conscious younger customers, who assume dairy merchandise include an excessive amount of fats and sugar. Stevia is more and more being utilized in merchandise that help more healthy existence, whether or not it’s weight administration or energetic existence, comparable to high-protein yoghurts and dairy drinks.”
Leveraging the ingredient in dairy may even reverse a development that has seen many youthful customers flip to dairy options in seek for more healthy choices. “We all know 77% of this youthful demographic which have decreased their consumption of dairy could be prepared to extend it, so there’s a actual potential to draw these customers with great-tasting, low-calorie formulations utilizing stevia,” Forejt mentioned.
However together with the positives, there are caveats. “Changing sugar with sweeteners does current some challenges for producers. Stevia sweeteners – like all sweeteners – are usually utilized in decrease portions than sugar, which might impression texture and mouthfeel,” she defined. There are answers nonetheless that deal with this, together with the corporate’s personal soluble fiber choice.
“In addition to its practical profit in the course of the manufacturing course of, fibre can even enhance attraction amongst health-conscious customers as intestine well being turns into extra of a spotlight,” Forejt concluded.
Supply: Tate & Lyle proprietary analysis
European Dairy Consumption Tendencies