Stevia celebrates 5 year since EU approval
Five years ago, in December 2011, stevia extract or as the legislative body prefer to call it, steviol glycosides or E960 was approved for use in the EU and the first products hit the market shortly thereafter. With this 5 year anniversary to the approval that The Real Stevia Company was a central force in accomplishing, it’s worth looking back on stevia in Europe to see what has happened during this period.
Since December 2011 we have seen the number of stevia products on the European market steadily increase, with introductions taking on a sharp increase in recent years. Over 4000 stevia products have been launched with roughly 70% of them happening in the last three years.
Shortly after the approval in the EU we started asking Swedish consumers about their awareness of stevia. Through these yearly surveys we have been able to see that the awareness and positive impression of stevia and steviol glycosides has increased steadily over the years. Awareness of stevia among Swedish consumers is now up to 70%.
- In 2007 the submission to have steviol glycosides approved was filed and it wasn’t until 4 years later that we finally saw the full EU approval. We have worked hard during and before that time since our founding in 2003 to be a driving force in seeing the approval through and it was incredibly rewarding to see it come through. With the distribution network we had built up in 2011 we could hit the ground running and today we supply Real SteviaTM across all of Europe says Carl Horn af Rantzien, Founder of The Real Stevia Company.
A major development since 2011 that affects the sweetener market is the increased interest in sugar taxation in Europe. Such tax has existed in Norway since the 1980’s but recently this is something generally discussed with the most recent development in Europe taking place in the UK, which earlier this year introduced a sugar tax on soft drinks which is expected to come into play in 2018.
The motivation of this international debate is the increased recognition of the dangers of a high sugar intake. Since 2011, obesity and diabetes has increased significantly and research has pointed to excessive consumption of sugar as a main reason. Stevia is an excellent tool to, in part or completely, reduce the level of sugar in most food and beverage products.
- The need for a natural alternative to sugar has been a strong driving force for stevia in Europe since it was made available. There are many different sweeteners on the market, but not all are trusted among consumers. In the last 3 years that we have conducted our surveys a general worry about artificial sweeteners has been a consistent reflection from consumers. We believe this has affected steviol glycosides positively. A strong evidence for this was noted in the latest survey in which we note a marked increase on regular purchases of products containing stevia says Carl Horn af Rantzien, Founder of The Real Stevia Company.
Looking ahead into the next five years market research shows continued strong growth expectations for stevia extracts as consumers grow aware of stevia as great sweetening alternative. The strong projected future of stevia makes the history of reaching this milestone all the sweeter and we at The Real Stevia Company look forward to the next five years with a smile!