November 19, 2009
LAS VEGASA post conference workshop following SupplySide West attracted more than 100 registrants from the food and beverage industry for an in-depth look at the market for stevia-derived sweeteners. The workshop featured presentations and Q&A with Robert S. McQuate, Ph.D., CEO and co-founder of GRAS Associates LLC; and Steve Walton, General Manager of HealthFocus International; and the audience included top companies such as Hershey, PepsiCo, Del Monte and Hansen Beverage.
The program began with a detailed review of the safety, regulatory and technical considerations related to using stevia-derived sweeteners in foods. McQuate discussed the use and regulatory history of the stevia plant and its derivatives in the United States and internationally, followed by reviews of the various GRAS notifications related to stevia. He predicted a flood of new products expected in the near future as well as the growing use of sweetener blends, such as stevia-sugar combinations. McQuate also described many of the flavor initiatives already underway that are using stevia-derived ingredients.
In conclusion, McQuate predicted continued technological innovations and market opportunities, but stressed that they key to long-term success for these products would be the ongoing emphasis on production of high-purity stevia-derived sweeteners while preserving strict quality control procedures.
Walton opened his presentation with detailed consumer and market data focused on the main drivers of the stevia opportunity, which he identified as weight/obesity, health problems, demand for pure/natural, and changes in usage of various sweeteners. His data showed clearly which current sweeteners stand to lose the most market share to stevia-derived sweeteners based on consumers decreasing their usage or expressing their concerns about specific sweeteners. He said that data indicates the target market for stevia is very mainstream, with a tendency toward youth and households with children. Attitudinally, he said they are over-represented among early adopters and among those self-identified as struggling with weight.
Stevia: Trends, Product Development and Regulatory Update, was co-sponsored by PureCircle, Blue California, GLG-Weider Sweet Naturals, Sweet Green Fields, SweetLeaf Sweetener, and Wild Flavors. The event took place at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino following SupplySide West, the worlds largest trade show and conference for healthy and innovative ingredients.
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