Factors such as greater healthcare awareness, high incidence of diabetes, and increasing proliferation of the Internet drive the global stevia market. Consumers are increasingly replacing artificial and chemical sweeteners with stevia, which is considered to be a natural sweetener. Stevia is generally used as a sweetening agent in hot and cold beverages. It is derived from a South American plant called Stevia rebaudiana. The stevia plant is grown in several countries, with China, Brazil, and Paraguay being the largest producers.
China is by far the largest exporter of stevia in the world. It is anticipated that the global stevia market, which in 2014 stood at US$347 million, will reach US$565.2 million by 2020. In terms of consumption, this market will grow from 5,100.6 tonnes in 2014 to 8,506.9 tonnes by 2020. The leading companies in the global stevia market are greatly focusing on widening their respective product offerings in order to meet the demands of the health conscious.
Widening Application Scope of the Global Stevia Market
The modern-day consumer is highly concerned about the composition of food and beverages owing to greater healthcare awareness. Amongst all food components, the trend of low sugar consumption continues to be a key factor for most companies operating in the global stevia market. The surging demand for stevia can also be attributed to the need for replacing artificial sweeteners.
Over the past couple of years, the use of stevia in various food products and beverages has risen remarkably by way of new product launches. Coca Cola Life, a zero-calorie beverage that was launched in Argentina in 2013, is one such beverage that uses stevia as a sweetening agent. The use of stevia is mainly restricted to beverages, however, with greater awareness it is gradually being applied in pharmaceuticals, dairy, and even as a tabletop sweetener.
Europe, South America, and East Africa, being a few of the major consumers of stevia in the world, are the most lucrative markets for companies in the global stevia market. The popularity of stevia is yet to gain momentum in Asian economies such as Indonesia and India owing to low health awareness and motivation.
Cargill Develops the ViaTech Technology
U.S.-based food processing company Cargill introduced the ViaTech variety of sweeteners in 2014. This line of sweeteners is essentially produced from stevia, thereby allowing beverage and food manufacturers to ensure optimal sweetness coupled with substantial sugar reduction. What sets apart the ViaTech portfolio from other stevia sweeteners is that Cargill Inc. uses a certain model for taste prediction, which creates clean sweetness in food and beverage formulations, which otherwise can’t provide zero-calorie sweetness.
Cargill’s strategies are mainly directed towards innovation in terms of introducing improved stevia-based sweetener technologies and enhancing the taste performance of the product. The ingredients of ViaTech developed by Cargill aim at ensuring optimal sweetness at high usage levels, which for a long time remained a challenge with conventional stevia-based sweeteners.