The rapid rise of stevia as a natural sweetener has continued unabated over the past year. A new study by leading food and drink consultancy Zenith International estimates that worldwide sales of stevia are set to advance by 14 percent in 2014 to 4,670 tons, taking its overall market value to $336 million.
“Consumers are increasingly scrutinizing the contents of food and beverage products,” commented Zenith Market Intelligence Consultant Simon Redwood. “Reduction in sugar remains key for manufacturers and, with consumers now also beginning to shun artificial sweeteners, stevia’s natural provenance and near-zero caloric positioning place it at a distinct advantage.”
Gains over the past year have been driven by several high profile new product launches, including the introduction of Coca-Cola Life in a number of key markets. Although beverages remain the focus for stevia usage, dairy, tabletop sweeteners and even pharmaceuticals have all seen strong growth in the past 12 months. Increased awareness of stevia has also helped spur market growth, with more and more consumers coming to appreciate what stevia is and what benefits it provides.
In terms of stevia cultivation, China continues to lead the way and a number of new regions are continuing to emerge. East Africa, South America and even Europe are all receiving greater attention from the leading stevia suppliers, who are keen to satisfy the rising demand for stevia by offering a broader choice of high quality stevia extracts.
Zenith forecasts that the global market for stevia will reach 7,150 tons by 2017, equivalent to $578 million. “Health motivation in key Asian markets such as India and Indonesia remains lower, and it is expected to be some years before stevia really takes off in these countries. When it does, the potential for stevia will truly be realized,” concluded Redwood.