“More than calories, consumers focus on salt and sugar.” That’s according to Mintel’s report “Reducing salt & sugar: Perils and potential.” According to statistics, reduced / low / no sugar attributes were a top concern for buyers of packaged foods in the United States. While the first half of the report covers sodium reduction, the second half focuses on sugar reduction, with a spotlight on stevia (EU).
In 2013, Europe led new product introductions containing stevia, with North America trailing just behind. Mintel says that stevia was seen in several new categories in 2013, as well. New product launches included yogurt (EU), ice cream (EU), candy (EU), condiments (EU) and snacks (EU). And the report notes research that says consumers are increasingly interested in carbonated soft drinks that contain natural sweeteners, like stevia, rather than artificial ones, like aspartame, because of concerns about health, calories and flavor.
What does the future hold for stevia? Since Mintel’s report, products launched containing stevia have continued to grow globally. With the recent recommendation of the World Health Organization that sugar consumption be limited to less than 5% of total energy intake (or about 25 grams), I predict this trend will continue worldwide as formulators try to maintain sweetness in products without sacrificing flavor or liking scores in consumer testing. The use of stevia in combination with other sweeteners and bulking agents will aid formulators in producing products that are comparable to their current product range.
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