Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Prepare for an invasion of Stevia's offspring

Posted By on Wed, Sep 23, 2009 at 9:45 AM

stevia.092309.jpg

Sometimes it seems like every other day there is a new sugar substitute on the market -- the one that is going to transform the industry. Well, Stevia might actually be that sugar substitute.

Time reports that the natural sweetness in two relatively new Stevia products -- PureVia (the brand is owned by PepsiCo and Truvia (the product that Coke is counting on to formulate new diet drinks) appear to be gaining market share on Splenda and could bring growth the flagging market of sweeteners.

In August, product research firm Mintel suggested that sales of stevia-based sweeteners could exceed $100 million this year. The incredible part of that statistic is that Mintel formulated that estimate from the 110 products that currently contain stevia and those numbers are despite the fact that 70 percent of the American public has apparently never even heard of the sweetener. Readers of Fat City have been in the know since last December, when the FDA first approved the sweetener for use.

Companies are still trying to figure out how to market the sweetner made from the leaves of the stevia plant. Some are caught in the difficult position of trying to sell new stevia-based products without denigrating existing lines that contain artificial sweeteners. But like all new entries into the beverage market, Mintel senior analyst David Browne thinks it is still a matter of taste as to whether stevia will stay in the market:

Taste is what it's all about. In this segment it's essential... I think that of the products that are out there right now, some of them don't taste very good. There is a real 'what if' in the market: Is the taste good enough to convert consumers?"
[Image via Flickr: xoxefx]

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