“NuNaturals has worked hard to build our reputation as being a stevia company – the best stevia company, we like to think – and for a long time people just thought of us as doing tabletop sweeteners or being a product aimed at consumers managing their weight or diabetes or other chronic diseases, but now we are coming out with new innovations and entering new categories” that appeal to more consumers, said the company’s President Jake Sablosky.
He explained that when he took over as president for his father in December 2017 he knew that the company could do more – and be more – to more people, if it offered more products that could help consumers enjoy the sweet moments in their lives.
The most recent launch aimed at this mission is a line of sugar-free Pourable Syrups made with NuStevia that allows consumers to enjoy the sweetness of stevia without compromising on the experience.
Sablosky explained that as a high intensity sweetener, consumers only need a very small amount of the company’s previously available liquid stevia concentrates. And while these products were useful for sweetening beverages and oatmeal, they fell short of the decadent experience many consumers look forward to when enjoying pancakes smothered in maple syrup or ice cream doused in chocolate syrup.
The new Pourable Syrups tackle this head on by offering consumers the chance to use a more generous serving of the syrup to really cover whatever they want to use it for as a topping,” Sablosky said.
“This new format is really accessible, really easy to use and more like traditional sugar sweetened products,” which will expand its appeal beyond the traditional ‘natural’ consumer set who might be more willing to sacrifice experience for health, he said.
Available exclusively at Whole Foods Market and online, the line of syrups currently includes chocolate, vanilla and maple flavors, plus two seasons flavors – pumpkin and chai, which will be available at Albertsons and Safeway in Oregon as well as on Amazon, Sablosky said.
While the company currently is focused on supporting the current new products, Sablosky said he is already thinking of new flavors and uses for the syrup platform.
“The syrups are so versatile, so I can see having a lot of different flavors in this product line” that will support a variety of uses ranging from flavoring coffee, tea, cocktails and soda water to sweetening nutritional foods such as oatmeal and yogurt, he said.
“We also are looking at what other new categories we could enter beyond tabletop sweeteners to help keep the sugar out of there but still have finished products that are delicious,” he added.
For example, the pourable syrups’ launch followed closely on the heels of another new zero calorie sweetener from the company that blends organic stevia and monkfruit, which launched in Sprouts Farmers Market stores in September.
“We are excited about these two and how they can create really great flavor profiles,” Sablosky said.
New marketing strategy focuses on fun
The brand also is switching up how it markets its products – with more in-store demos and social media campaigns that highlight the fun and enjoyment the sweeteners offer and how they support balance lifestyles.
“The Pourables are our first exclusive with a retailer and we are super excited to partner with Whole Foods because they are known for exclusives and bringing cutting edge products to market. So, really, our focus right now is on driving people to Whole Foods stores by doing a lot of demoing where they can try the product in the store,” Sablosky said.
He explained that because stevia “has a bad rap for having a bitter aftertaste,” the company welcomes the chance to show consumers through demos that their high purity and high quality extract.
“This is definitely a product that when people try it, they are shocked and say that there has to be sugar in it because they don’t believe that stevia can taste like this,” but “we have gotten really good at formulating with stevia – especially with the flavor combinations of the syrups – so it is just a really pure, clean sweetness,” he said.
In-store demos also give the company a chance to show consumers how to use the products – a concept that is also the central focus of the brand’s social media presence, Sablosky said.
He explained that “a bunch of really amazing interns from the University of Oregon” over the past couple of years have helped the brand fine-tune its online marketing approach, including by using “a lot of overhead recipe videos that are very short – 60 seconds or less,” but which show followers how to make fun recipes that will add enjoyment to their lives.
A sweet future on the horizon
The company’s new products and marketing strategy will position it well to take advantage of the rising consumer awareness of how much sugar is in food – a trend that exponentially increase once the new Nutrition Facts labels go into effect and require products to call out how much added sugar is in a serving.
“The new labels are really going to open people’s eyes to how much sugar is in their foods and so, I think, we are going to start seeing more and more natural sweeteners in finished products, such as the Pourable Syrups,” to reduce the amount of sugar manufacturers must claim on the label, Sablosky said
He also predicts that monkfruit will start to climb in the near future after seeing a dip in recent years following an unexpected spike in sales in 2013 when it was mentioned by Dr. Oz.
“Monkfruit is very similar to stevia – they are both amazing natural sweeteners – but they have different strengths and weaknesses, so I think it will be fun to see the combination of the two emerge in the future as well as the role other natural sweeteners can play to create products that taste great,” he said.