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Asia and US lead stevia prospects, high hopes for Europe

By Emma Edwards , 21-Mar-2011

Rising health concerns, all-natural credentials and growing regulatory approval are all driving stevia’s rapid market growth, finds a new report from Zenith International, which forecasts worldwide sales will more than triple in volume by 2014.

Its findings highlight the natural ingredient’s “meteoric rise in popularity” which has seen a 27% increase in worldwide volume sales in 2010, compared to 2009; taking its overall market value to US$285 million.

Asia Pacific, where the ingredient has been used as a sweetener in some regions for decades, has the largest market share at 35.7 per cent, followed by North America (30 per cent) and South America (24.3 per cent). In Europe where its use is currently limited due to pending regulatory approval, the region has a much smaller 8.6 per cent share of the market.

Commenting on stevia consumption, Anya Hembrough, Zenith senior market analyst said: “Asia Pacific is the leading region, driven by demand from three countries in particular, Japan, South Korea and China”.

Since it achieved FDA GRAS in 2008, the market in the US “has rocketed with hundreds of new stevia-sweetened products launching every year.”

In South America where the ingredient originates, “suppliers are working to re-acquaint consumers with higher quality products.” Whilst in Europe, region- wide approval is “widely anticipated for later this year, and with its greater leaning towards natural products, some feel that this market could outstrip its North American counterpart in the future.”

Growing approval

Central to its success is the changing regulatory environment; “after persistent efforts by key producers, legislators worldwide are finally giving the green light to this new zero-calorie sweetener,” said Hembrough.

Although long established and approved in the Far East and South America, “stevia’s position on the global stage was secured in 2008 with its approval for general food use from Joint WHO/FAO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JEFCA) and the US Food and Drug Administration,” she explained.

The ingredient was also approved by the Australian and New Zealand food and safety regulatory body FSANZ and Swiss authorities in the same year and by the French Food Safety Authority (AFSAA) a year later. Anticipated European approval by the end of this year is, predicts Hembrough; “likely to trigger approval across Africa and the Middle East, global approval is widely expected by the end of 2012.”

Zenith forecasts the global market for stevia will reach 11,000 metric tonnes by 2014, equivalent to US$825 million by value. More details are available from http://www.zenithinternational.com/market_industry_reports/report_detail.aspx?id=261

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