Naturally Light juices

Looking to grow stevia beyond beverages

“Even if stevia is not successful in going beyond beverages and a handful of dairy products, it is estimated that stevia sales will be close to a billion dollars. However, if a company can produce a stevia product that will blend well in edibles such as boxed cereals or baked goods, the potential yearly sales would be in the multi-billion range.” This article takes a look at the stevia market, and how some key players are working to take it beyond beverages.

The global sweetener market is a $56 billion dollar industry, 80% of which is classified as caloric, meaning sugar or HFCS. The remaining 20% is non-caloric which falls into two categories, artificial and natural. Aspartame and Splenda are examples of artificial while stevia, monk fruit, and erythritol a sugar alcohol are considered natural.

Artificial has dominated the zero calorie market, but according to the August 2011 report by the market research firm Mintel, the trend is turning toward natural sweeteners with stevia gaining market share. According to Mintel the global market for stevia sweeteners reached an estimated $500-million by mid-2011, and food consultant Zenith International expects stevia sales to reach $825-million by 2014.

In a report from Packaged Facts of the US it estimates the world stevia sales in 2011 were somewhere between $800m and $2-billion in 2011. However, it’s mostly in beverages.

The beverage industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, energy drinks alone accounted for almost $7-billion in 2011. Stevia products can be found beverages all over the globe distributed by some of the largest bottlers and food manufactures in the world.

Coca-Cola, with its stevia product Truvia can be found in over 30 products including Diet Coke in Japan where stevia dominates with approximately 40% of the sweetener market. Del Monte announced it added stevia to its UK line of Naturally Light juices. Monster Beverage Company includes stevia in its Hanson’s Natural Lo-Cal juice cocktails and Blue Sky Zero sodas. Starbucks entered energy drink market with its Refreshers line, and the list goes on.

However for stevia to progress it must develop a product that can be used beyond beverages. Stevia extracts needs to be able to be adapted into cooking and baking products, confectioneries, and especially boxed cereals, a $7.7-billion a year industry that annually dumps 816 million pounds of sugar into those boxes.

At this point no stevia grower, producer, or manufacturer has produced a stevia extract that the food industry believes is able to match the taste of sugar or HFCS. However, there are growers and producers who are developing new strains and extraction methods to produce sweeter steviol glycosides that may work in conjunction with other binders to lower the quantity of sugar of HFCS in food products.

Breeding new plants with leaves high in rebaudioside A (Reb A), the sweetest of the steviol glycosides, growers and producers are creating newer and better tasting strains of stevia crucial for it to move beyond beverage sweeteners. Though there are a number of companies either growing the stevia plants or manufacturing the sweet Reb A, below are three companies that are developing high-quality stevia that could be substituted or added to sugar or HFCS in food products people consume…..

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