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November 21, 2017
The global sweetener market is forecasted to rise at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.78 percent during 2016 to 2020, according to RnR Market Research. The U.S. sweetener market alone is expected to exceed US$45 billion by 2020. As prosperity in the world rises, people are tending to eat more, and because of this, lifestyle diseases are growing in tandem. Solutions include looking for low-calorie diets, with low-calorie sweeteners being examined as an option.
Several chemical and natural sugar substitutes are in use in different parts of the world. Aspartame is probably the most popular among the chemical substitutes. Alternate organic sugar substitutes include honey, dates, maple syrup, agave sweeteners, etc. These contain fewer calories than, or roughly the same calories as sugar, but the substitutes also include other nutrients.
Stevia-based sweeteners are 200-times sweeter than sugar. Stevia has zero calories, making this sweetener popular with people who face diabetes and obesity.
Most of the Stevia-based products sold in the market come from Stevia rebaudiana. The plant belongs to the Asteraceae family. It is a bush that prefers a semi-humid, sub-tropical climate. Stevia is easy to cultivate. The plant is native to Paraguay and Brazil, where it has been traditionally used as a sweetener in foods and drinks. China, though, is the world’s largest producer and exporter of Stevia.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) determined pure stevia extract is safe for consumption when consumed within acceptable levels. The acceptable daily intake (ADI) has been set at 4 mg per kilogram of body weight.
Stevia is now present in several foods and beverages in the United States including Gatorade’s G2, Vitamin Water Zero, Sprite Green and many other products. It is used in cooking, baking and a range of dairy and non-dairy desserts.
Learn more about stevia and other sugar alternatives in INSIDER’s Sweeteners Digital Magazine.
Sudhir Ahluwalia (sudhirahluwalia.com) is a business consultant. He has been management consulting head of Tata Consultancy Services, an IT outsourcing company in Asia, business advisor to multiple companies, columnist and author of the book "Holy Herbs." Ahluwalia was also a member of the Indian Forest Service.
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