As of May 2011, stevia awareness reached 62%, from 46% just a year earlier in the general U.S. population. According to the study, stevia has now surpassed sucralose, which had 42% recognition, since its launch in 1998. The study, based on a survey of consumers across the U.S. in May 2011, covered such areas as awareness, perception and purchase interest of branded and unbranded sweeteners in the U.S. market, including interest in their use across a broad set of food and beverage categories.
“We had a hypothesis in early 2009 that the stevia market needed to be looked at very differently from earlier high intensity sweeteners,” said Jason Hecker, vice president of global marketing and innovation, PureCircle. “Traditionally, branded sweeteners have had much greater awareness and positive impression than their unbranded counterparts. Overall, the trends with stevia are the reverse. The data indicates that consumers find the unbranded message, in fact, to be the most natural. Perhaps this shouldn’t be completely surprising as the commonly used term for the sweetener is also the name of the plant.”
Of equal importance, the study found that with continued growth in awareness, stevia continues to rank at the top of the list with other natural ingredients like sugar and honey, for overall positive impression.
“We’re very pleased to see that consumer trends continue to be aligned with the way we have advised our food and beverage customers,” said Mr. Hecker. “When we first introduced the Stevia PureCircle trust mark to our customers, it was an unconventional approach to help our customers communicate the natural benefits of stevia in their products and eliminate the confusion of products carrying multiple brand names. Stevia has strong resonance with consumers. We see our role as PureCircle now to help our customers provide added reassurance that their ingredients can be traced to a natural source consumers can feel great about.”
The Stevia PureCircle trust mark has now been licensed by more than 50 products worldwide and is supported by such activities as PureCircle’s We Grow Joy campaign and the Global Stevia Institute.