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Stevia – Nestle and Lindt rely on sugar alternative from South America News

Saturday, August 19th, 2017 | Economy

It is found in meanwhile in many products. It is now found in many products, from Coca-Cola lemonade to Heinz ketchup. Not a bad start for a product, many people think it has a bitter aftertaste.
The stevia plant, which can be processed to a calorie-free sweetener, is seen as a sugar alternative on the triumph. Consumption tripled from 2011 to 2016 according to the market researcher Euromonitor International. Although the plant still has a small share of the sweetener market, companies such as Cargill Inc. and ED & F Man Holdings Ltd. More – also to improve the taste. The bitter note had slowed the growth a bit.
"This is a market with a huge potential for growth," says Jonathan Hugh, head of the agribusiness sector at London-based commodity trader ED & F Man, who is involved in Stevia-based sweetener Unavoo. "We see many investment opportunities."
Do not change the taste
The search for a low-calorie sugar substitute, which does not change the taste of well-known and popular brands, reflects a long-term goal of the food industry, not least because of the global obesity epidemic and rising diabetes rates. Over the years this had led to artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose and xylitol. But many consumers report unpleasant side effects of these products, or they worry about the use of chemical additives.
Stevia, which is often marketed as a natural sweetener because it is extracted from plant extracts, has almost no calories and a glycemic index of zero, which means that it can be used by diabetics.
Stevia is named after a Spanish botanist, belongs to the sunflower family and has been growing in South America for hundreds of years. By 2008, the plant did not receive much attention, but then Cargill – one of the world's largest farms – introduced the Stevia-based Truvia sweetener in the USA.
10'000 stevia containing products
Demand accelerated thereafter. In 2011, the European Union approved the use of stevia in food. It is now found in salad dressings, gum and even face wipes for babies. The plants, which thrive in sunny, warm conditions are cultivated today also in Paraguay, Kenya, China, the USA, Vietnam, India, Argentina and Colombia.
More than 10,000 stevia-containing food and beverage products were introduced in five years. This is the result of data from PureCircle, a Malaysia based Stevia manufacturer. Nestle, the world's largest food company, uses stevia in fruit juice in Brazil, coffee blends in South Korea and the Nestea brand.
Lindt & Sprüngli, the largest producer of premium chocolate, says that his Russell Stover division will introduce stevia-sweetened chocolate in the US in autumn. And Coca-Cola and Pepsi – the largest soda producers – use the substance for diet drinks.
Stevia could be the best opportunity in the industry to reduce the consumption of sugar, which many consumers have been reluctant to separate in recent years. "There is this war on sugar, so Stevia is well positioned," says Sara Girardello, director of high-intensity sweetener research at LMC International in Oxford. "Everyone is active here."


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