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Stevia has fast gained presence as the first natural, healthy sweetener. This briefing explores stevia-related innovation in 2013 and highlights technological advances including steviol glycoside blends and further reducing sugar content to 50% to improve the taste profile. Stevia’s potential as a weight management ingredient is also analysed by assessing the rise in reduced sugar carbonate consumption, and hence drop in calorie intake, if just 20% of regular carbonates were reformulated.
In order for manufacturers looking to reformulate their products with stevia to be successful, the focus should be on those markets where reduced sugar variants of the aforementioned categories – soft drinks and more specifically seen in carbonates, flavoured bottled water, fruit/vegetable juice and RTD tea – are widely consumed.
Manufacturers should also look to those markets which already have a high consumption of reduced-sugar beverages, such as those showcased below It is evident that to some extent this strategy has already been adopted by manufacturers as The Coca-Cola Co (TCCC) launched its first stevia-sweetened Coca-Cola in Argentina, the top consumer for reduced sugar soft drinks and numerous launches have been seen in the US, Belgium and the UK all within the top five.
As more food and drink products containing stevia are launched globally, the question of whether it can have an impact on the growing prevalence of overweight and obese populations has to be raised. If 20% of regular full-sugar carbonates were reformulated to contain stevia and hence saw a 30% calorie reduction, Euromonitor International has estimated the annual calorie reduction for a person who consumed two cans per day – not wholly inconceivable – would be 6,132kcal.
While this reduction alone would not lead to curbing the overweight population, the beverages would be an easy addition to a diet of someone wishing to lose a few kilos and would not require a change in dietary habits. If the loose, albeit highly debated, formula of a calorie deficit of 3,500kcal will lead to a loss of 1lb in body weight and 20% of carbonates are reformulated, it could lead to a per capita weight loss of 1.7lb annually.
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