Stevia has now become an essential ingredient for many food and beverage companies, and it works effectively as a natural substitute to sugar, offering manufacturers the capability to produce and market products with ‘healthier’ image.
Stevia leaf extract is a natural, zero calorie, high-intensity sweetener used by global food and beverage companies as a great-tasting zero-calorie, alternative to sugar and artificial sweeteners.
In Asia, food and beverage companies have an increasing need for such an ingredient as regional governments have become increasingly concerned on the growing rate of obesity and diabetes in their populations. In addition, consumers are becoming more and more health conscious and are looking for products with low or no sugar.
One major producer of stevia with its headquarter in Malaysia, PureCircle, has reported that there is a substantial increase in new product launches containing stevia sweeteners in the first 6 months of 2018 as compared to the same period last year.
The rapidly growing demand for stevia has led PureCircle to invest aggressively into the expansion of its Malaysian facility. It has also increased production capacity to supply more stevia sweeteners like Reb D and Reb M at competitive cost and in significant quantities.
PureCircle reported that new product launches with stevia rose by 27% globally, which can be broken down into new beverage launches (33%) versus new food launches (23%) containing stevia. Apparently, from the findings, stevia has found greater application in beverages.
Latest research from Mintel showed that the top 2 regions that launched stevia as an ingredient are Asia Pacific (42%) and Europe (22%) followed by Latin America, North America and Middle East/Africa. Major companies that launched products with stevia leaf sweetener in the 1st half of 2018 included Calbee Foods, The Coca-Cola Co, Danone, Grupo Bimbo, Kraft Heinz, Nestle, PepsiCo, Seven & I Holdings and Unilever.
Latest statistics from Euromonitor showed that demand for sweeteners, including stevia, will continue to grow especially in emerging countries like Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand. (Refer Chart 1.0)