Research conducted by stevia partners Cargill and Associated British Foods subsidiary Silver Spoon has found UK consumers are keen for natural alternatives to artificial low-calorie sweeteners.
“This research suggests that in the UK, people are not completely satisfied with the artificial sweetener options currently available and that new stevia-based sweeteners are likely to be received positively when they become available in the UK later this year,” the companies’ said.
The research isolated two types of potential stevia consumers: the ‘proactively healthy’ and ‘sweetener treaters’. The first group, “actively seek to lead a healthy lifestyle and are constantly seeking to lose or manage their weight”.
The second are interested in indulgence foods with low-calorie sweeteners like Cargill’s Truvia version to assist them in removing feelings of guilt.
“For the ‘proactively healthy’ group in particular, the current sweeteners on the market fail to meet their needs,” they said.
“Even though they predominantly choose and use sweeteners in their daily diet, they say they are compromising their principles by having to use an artificial product in a bid to be healthy because there is currently no plant-based alternative offering.”
Stevia is not yet approved in European markets bar France, but the European Commission recently approved it at committee level.
That prompted EC spokesperson Frederic Vincent to relay to FoodNavigator that stevia-fortified products could be on European shelves by, “early 2012” as long as there were no objections from the European Council and the European Parliament in the three-month scrutiny period that ends in October this year.
Commenting on the research, professor Robert Murray of the Department of Human Nutrition at Ohio State University said: “We are trying to achieve three goals: To cut added sugars and solid fats, to cut total calories and to promote the consumption of more nutrient rich foods. Truvia sweetener offers us a powerful tool to address all three in a family's diet because it goes to the heart of dietary choice, the taste of food. I'm excited to introduce it to people seeking to improve their nutrition."
Alternative sweeteners are worth about 20% of the total €384m UK sweeteners and sugar market in the UK, where one quarter of households use sugar alternatives.
The research can be found here.