Stevia rebaudiana, commonly known as stevia, has been used for more than 1,500 years by the Guaraní peoples of South America as a sweetening agent in local teas and medical treatments. Stevia is among the natural sugar substitutes widely used in different applications, including food, beverages, pharmaceuticals, tabletop sweeteners, and personal care. Stevia being a high-intensity natural sweetener, even in small quantities, can create a desired sweet taste. It contains less food energy than sugar-based sweeteners, making it a zero-calorie or low-calorie sweetener. Obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome have become major public health problems due to their association with imbalanced calorie intake. To curb the conditions mentioned above, stevia plays a vital role in reducing calories as part of an overall healthy diet and physical activity regimen.
Increasing health concerns regarding diabetes have forced consumers to adopt healthy living, including sugar-reduced and low-calorie food. This has resulted in applying natural sweeteners with low-calorie content and low glycemic index, which directly replaces sugar without having any adverse health effects. Stevia is among the low-calorie natural sweeteners that prevent a rise in blood sugar levels.
According to the American Diabetes Association, non-nutritive sweeteners can be several hundred to several thousand times sweeter than sucrose. Stevia has a unique taste profile and sweetness intensity, approximately 200 to 350 times greater than regular sugar. An increase in health consciousness encourages consumers to demand healthier food. Consumer’s propensity towards organic products has increased the demand for natural sweeteners, like stevia. Also, the trend of clean-label products attracts attention towards stevia-based products, especially for people with diabetes.
According to International Stevia Council, stevia leaf extracts are the most preferred and suitable alternative for sugar in children's food. Their high potency sweetness compared to sugar and no-calorie content helps sweeten the children's diet, with teeth protection and without affecting metabolism.
According to International Stevia Council, more than 100 countries worldwide have received approval for stevia, and products sweetened with stevia have been accessed by more than 4.5 billion consumers worldwide. Demand is driven by rising consumer demand for healthier and natural food products. Regulatory changes in the EU also stimulate demand for stevia in Europe.
The European food and drink market is one of the largest in the world. The industry has registered strong growth in recent years and generated USD 141.7 billion (EUR 120 billion) in 2018 (Source: Food Drink Europe). The strong growth in the food and beverage industry drives the demand for natural sweeteners like stevia. Natural sweeteners are increasingly used to replace sugar in F&B products. According to the 2020 New Nutrition Business Survey, two-thirds of European consumers are trying to lower their sugar intake. In addition, research has also found that European consumers are increasingly looking for products with no added sugars.
Beverages including diet cokes, flavored drinks, RTS drinks having incorporated with stevia are mostly recommended to health-conscious and diabetic patients. Thus, driving the demand for the stevia market.
The Sugar Substitutes Market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.9% from 2021 to 2028 to reach $24.1 billion by 2028.