The use of stevia in food and beverage products is rapidly expanding, according to Mintel research commissioned by stevia supplier PureCircle.
Food and beverage products containing stevia rose by 13% in the second quarter of 2017 compared to the same period last year.
The research found that it’s the big F&B players instigating this sweetening seachange, with The Coca-Cola Company, Danone, Nestlé and Unilever among those utilising stevia leaf.
For the second quarter of this year, the products launched by these companies and others almost doubled compared the same period in 2012.
Looking at this second quarter data separately for beverages and foods, the percentage of global food introductions with stevia increased +57% from 2012 to 2017.
The percentage of global beverage product introductions with stevia increased at an even greater rate, up +161% from 2012 to this year.
Looking at the different beverage and food categories, carbonated soft drinks accounted for 9% of global launches of products containing stevia in the second quarter of this year.
Within the carbonated soft drink category, the percentage of products launched with stevia increased 27% between the second quarter of 2016 and 2017.
Juice drinks with stevia launches also accounted for 9%, also posting a +27% increase.
The top-5 categories in terms of new product launches with stevia in Q2 2017 were: snacks, other beverages, carbonated soft drinks, dairy, and juice drinks.
Among the categories posting the highest growth rates were “sugar and gum confectionery” with a +125% increase and “sports and energy drinks” with a +102% increase.
The new beverage and food product launches with stevia are occurring worldwide with all global regions participating. Of the total new food and beverage products launched with stevia in the second quarter of 2017, 40% of launches were in Asia Pacific, 21% in Europe, 19% in North America, 17% in Latin America, and 3% in Middle East Africa.
Mintel research also indicates that use of “natural origin” sweeteners is sharply on the rise.
When looking at products launched globally with high intensity sweeteners – as defined by sucralose, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, and stevia – just 9% of products used stevia in 2010.
Acesulfame potassium (also known as ace-K), sucralose and aspartame dominated.
As of August, 2017, stevia was used in 27% of new products launched using high intensity sweeteners so far this year.
Stevia was more widely used in those new product launches than aspartame.