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Stevia the new sweet craze?

Stevia is increasingly becoming the leading sweetener choice, partly caused by the momentum in media attention, the potential of new markets, and its FDA GRAS status, according to “Sugar, Sugar Substitute, and Sweetener Trends in the US, 3rd Edition” released by US market research publisher Packaged Facts.

Support by major corporations such as Coca-Cola and PepsiCo has also proven a boon, and has helped changed the entire stevia market dynamic since the end of 2008.

David Sprinkle, publisher of Packaged Facts, says companies were ready to jump into the market with a wave of kitchen and tabletop stevia formulations and stevia-sweetened products the moment the FDA gave it GRAS status in December 2008. Companies have also since formed partnerships and entered into mergers and acquisitions as part of strategies to exploit this market, Sprinkle adds.

The global retail and wholesale stevia markets combined were estimated at USD$20 million in 2008. Current estimates vary wildly, but generally, estimates of the combined market size in 2011 range from $800 million to $2 billion.

Between 2004 and 2008, more than 2,000 stevia-sweetened products were introduced worldwide. In 2010, 76 stevia-sweetened product lines were introduced to the US market alone. Most of the new products introduced combine stevia with one or more other sweeteners.

Stevia is presently on a path toward approval for use within the European Union. The EU Standing Committee on Food Chain and Animal Health in July approved high-purity stevia for use as a food ingredient throughout the EU.

The next regulatory step is scrutiny of the proposed regulations by the European Parliament. It is likely that high-purity stevia will be allowed to be used as in ingredient in the EU by November 2011.

Following approval in Europe, Packaged Facts expects sales of products containing stevia to skyrocket. European approval is projected to trigger approval across Africa and the Middle East, and global approval is widely expected by the end of 2012.

"Sugar, Sugar Substitute, and Sweetener Trends in the US, 3rd Edition" estimates and analyses the size, growth rate and composition of the sugar and sweetener market in the United States. Because so much sugar and sweetener is sold for foodservice and industrial use, sales are provided for the retail market for kitchen/tabletop sweeteners as well as the market in its entirety.

The report covers refined white sugar, brown sugar and other powdered, flavored and less-refined sugars; honey, molasses, corn sweeteners (including high-fructose corn syrup) and other caloric or nutritive sweeteners; non-caloric sugar substitutes, also called artificial sweeteners or high-intensity sweeteners; and polyols, also called sugar alcohols. More at Packaged Facts