The specialty ingredients supplier is to target manufacturers of ready-to-drink (RTD) tea to demonstrate how its high intensity sweetener Sunett can be used to develop calorie-reduced sweetened teas "without compromising on taste". The company is particularly looking at white and green tea and suggests using Sunett along with aspartame or sucralose for sugar-reduction in RTD tea launches. Karen Sewell, food technology specialist and technical sales, Nutrinova, told FoodNavigator-USA.com that tea is becoming more prevalent and "trendy" in the US. She added: "It is definitely growing. It is very trendy instead of a soft drink. "Energy drinks are dying down - a lot of the soft drinks are dying down. "They are getting some bad press saying they aren't as healthy for you. The teas are more natural and have the health aspects with antioxidants." The ingredients company claims that high sugar replacement ratios with Sunett blends result in significant calorie reductions and offer cost savings. A spokesperson for Nutrinova said that for many consumers RTD teas are increasingly serious alternatives to carbonated soft drinks, which are often perceived as too sweet and promoting weight gain and obesity in their full calorie versions. She added: "With its abundant natural sources of flavonoid antioxidants, green tea is a healthier choice - and health attributes are driving consumer demand in the drink sector as they are elsewhere in the global food industry." Nutrinova claims that most iced teas are based on green or black tea with additional fruit-based flavors such as lemon or peach, while additional herbal extracts help to boost a products health positioning. The spokesperson added: "Consumer demand for these types of drinks is growing. In the US the consumption of RTD tea has steadily increased over the last five year. In addition the number of product launches with full or partial sugar replacement grew consistently - and further increases are to be expected." The US market for tea is expected to double over the next five years, boosted by a growing interest in wellness, according to Packaged Facts. The group estimate that sales for instant, leaf, liquid concentrate and ready-to-drink tea will reach nearly $15bn by 2012, compared to $7.4bn this year. Other companies to follow the tea trend include International Flavors & Fragrances Inc which recently launched a new range of tea-inspired products that it hopes will be used in foods, not just beverages. Previous research conducted by analyst Zenith International has showed that US consumers drank 990m liters of energy drinks during 2006. This was a 47 per cent increase over the previous year, making the country the largest global market for the product, says analyst Zenith International. Zenith said the US consumption rate of the products is expected to more than double by 2011 to eight liters per person. Nutrinova boasts of inventing the high intensity sweetener Acesulfame-K which it markets under the brand name Sunett.