It’s been a little more than a year since the zero-calorie, all-natural sweetener, Reb A attained GRAS status in the U.S. for use in food and beverages. Regulation of stevia in the U.S. and other parts of the world has ignited a strong interest in the natural sweetener from both manufacturers and consumers during the past year. Not surprisingly, the first products with stevia to market were tabletop sweeteners and beverages. But because of its naturally broad appeal, stevia is now making its way into other categories as well.
“The interest we’ve experienced across food and beverage categories continues to reinforce that stevia is on its way toward becoming a mainstream ingredient,” commented Jason Hecker, director of marketing, PureCircle USA. “In the past year, we’ve partnered with companies to deliver great-tasting products across global markets in diverse categories from beverage to dairy. All these new products continue to drive stevia into the mainstream. Reinforcing this, we have proprietary research conducted earlier this month that indicates nearly half of all women in America are aware of stevia. This is a significant increase from eight months ago when we conducted our initial study.”
Research presented during PureCircle’s global Webinar in May from a mom-focused study indicated that just five months after GRAS status was achieved for stevia-derived Reb A, one in three moms were aware of stevia.
“We’ve seen clearly that acceptance has been not only as a zero-calorie solution, but also as a wonderful way to reduce calories in the ‘full-calorie’ products consumers’ love,” says Hecker. “And we are especially excited to see the recent move into products outside of beverage and tabletop.”
Here’s a brief review of some of the latest stevia-sweetened products to debut globally over the past six months:
White Wave Foods, a subsidiary of Dean Foods, introduced Silk Chocolate Light soymilk, offering consumers a naturally-sweetened, lower calorie option with only 90 calories per serving. Another product that came onto the market as a lower-calorie version of a higher-calorie favorite was Trop 50 orange juice drinks. It quickly became a $100 million brand and recently added two new varieties—Pomegranate Blueberry and Pineapple Mango.
Zero-Calorie Sobe Lifewater also got a very positive response from consumers, so the line was extended with two additional flavors: Strawberry Dragonfruit & Cherimoya Punch. Further PepsiCo launches include Aquafina Plus Vitamins 10 Cal in Canada—the nation’s first low-calorie vitamin-enhanced water to feature a pure stevia extract, all-natural sweetener—and the low-cal, hydrating beverage G2, which debuted in Mexico in three 100% naturally sweetened flavors.
Other notable international flavored water launches came from Group Danone and Frucor. Group Danone’s Bonafont recently rolled out a stevia-sweetened version of its Levite brand flavored water into Latin America. And Frucor introduced New Zealand’s first low-calorie, vitamin-enhanced beverage, featuring a stevia-derived sweetener.
Beyond beverages, Nestle rolled out Yoco Yogurt and Bliss Drinkable Yogurt in Malaysia. Both of these dairy products are naturally sweetened with zero-calorie, stevia. In New Zealand, Goodman Fielder’s Meadow Fresh Lite Yoghurt was reformulated to replace the sucralose in it with naturally-derived Reb A from stevia. It’s now being promoted as ‘naturally sweetened.’
Shortly after France gave regulatory approval to Reb A last September, Whole Earth Sweetener Co. announced plans to introduce its all-natural, zero-calorie, tabletop sweetener, PureVia into the market. The PureVia tabletop product was also recently launched into Mexico and Australia.
The introduction of all of these products is indicative of the global interest in and desire for a natural, zero-calorie sweetener that tastes great. Stevia-derived Reb A is meeting that desire.