Taste and regulations top stevia concerns

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Related tags: Stevia, Supply and demand

A new survey takes a peek inside the minds of stevia industry movers and shakers today, and finds taste, regulations and supply security occupying their thoughts.

The survey was intended to take a snapshot of the stevia industry in its early stages, and in advance of the Stevia World Americas taking place in Atlanta in February 2010. The findings are contained in a free-to-download report called Global Stevia Industry Perceptions Report 2009.

Interest in stevia has skyrocketed since the FDA granted its first GRAS no objection letters almost exactly one year ago. Although no major brand products have been reformulated using stevia, beverage firms have been dipping their toes in the water with smaller brands and niche products.

According to the survey respondents, matters of taste still top the list of concerns, since consumer acceptance of the taste is crucial to its success. Many respondents believe that tackling the taste profile and after-taste could be the one limiting factor to market growth.

Another key concern was the regulatory status of stevia. Although stevia sweeteners can now be used in some big markets including the US and Australia and New Zealand, Europe’s food risk assessor has yet to give its safety opinion. France is the only European market in which stevia sweeteners are allowed, as this summer the French government opted to take advantage of a two-year window that allows it to grant approval in advance of the rest of Europe.

The third most pressing concern was supply reliability, and whether the amounts currently on the market are enough to meet demand. A need to secure long-term supply deals was identified, and stevia suppliers would do well to invest in plantations.

The authors say the report does not provide a complete consensus of the stevia industry, but it is said to be a “valuable snapshot”, about perceptions and emerging trends.

Future surveys of more experienced market participants and larger sample sizes are advised.

The report can be downloaded here. http://www.steviaworldforum.com/2009/12/03/the-global-stevia-industry-perceptions-report-2009-reveals-findings-of-the-global-stevia-industry-survey/

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