Stevia on the rise in sweetener industry

by Staff
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NEW YORK — According to researcher Packaged Facts, stevia-based products are expected to grow considerably in coming years as the sweetener industry looks for natural alternatives low in calories.

"Various health, consumer and market trends will affect the sweetener market," said Tatjana Meerman, publisher of Packaged Facts. "A focus on low-glycemic-index foods supports growth for high-intensity non-nutritive sweeteners; concerns about health effects of high-fructose corn syrup may slow its sales as marketers switch to alternatives; continued trending toward natural ingredients will drive growth for natural and organic sugar and sweeteners."

Packaged Facts said the 2007 market for retail sweeteners was at $3.1 billion in 2007 and is expected to grow to $3.2 billion by 2012. The market may switch in its emphasis with the introduction of stevia extracts, continued growth of the organic and less-refined sugar categories and the decline of saccharin.

Stevia-based sweeteners are made from the stevia plant. They are natural and non-nutritive with up to 300 times the sweetness of sugar. All of these factors make the sweeteners attractive for the low-calorie food market. Currently, they are approved only for use in dietary supplement in the United States, but as partnerships between Coca-Cola and Cargill and PepsiCo and Merisant Co. begin to experiment and use the ingredient, this could change.

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