Blog: Stevia gives visitors to Fi Europe plenty to chew over
Dean Best | 30 November 2011
Stevia was one of the key topics that appeared to be at the forefront of exhibitors' minds as just-drinks' sister site just-food toured this year's Food Ingredients Europe trade show in Paris.
The event, held every two years, is taking place at the sprawling Paris Nord Villepinte exhibition centre, north of the French capital. And, after a less than auspicious start to proceedings in which the computer systems for press badges failed (adding to the long, long queues for visitor passes) and in which the power in the press room went down, the first day at the event yesterday (29 November) was full of fascinating insights from some of the world's largest food ingredient makers.
Unsurprisingly, just three weeks after it won EU approval, intense sweetener stevia was one of the buzzwords (before just-food had even taken a seat at the Cargill stand for a scheduled interview when the show opened, representatives of the US food giant were fielding requests about the product).
Cargill and, later in the day, rival stevia supplier PureCircle both talked about the potential for stevia in food. Until now, the majority of products launched containing stevia have been drinks but both companies believe more food products, including ice cream, yoghurts and even salad dressings, will be introduced that include the zero-calorie, natural sweetener.
There is always some scepticism around the launch of any product or ingredient but stevia seems to have captured the imagination of the industry and is being covered by not just the trade press but by mainstream publications, including Le Monde, which ran a feature discussing the ingredient yesterday.
Both companies were upbeat about the ingredient's potential. PureCircle's global director of marketing and innovation, Jason Hecker, insisted there are a number of consumer trends that would encourage the wider use of stevia. "It's not a [simply] discussion about a zero-calorie ingredient. It's a discussion about obesity, about commodities, about health and wellness and natural. Those are much bigger contexts," he said.
And Hecker also claimed stevia could have a positive impact on a key consideration for food manufacturers - cost.
"Those dynamics are all business propositions [but] we can just as easily have a conversation with a customer about how some of the ingredients in our portfolio can reduce the cost of the formulations in their products. Forget about natural, sustainability and obesity. You can look at this from the perspective of commodity diversification. There are so many propositions to work with. It's really compelling."
As just-food has reported on its pages in the past, there have been concerns around the after-taste of products using the ingredient and, although both Cargill and PureCircle acknowledged there had been those concerns, they pointed to the successful application of their ingredients in products owned by companies from Coca-Cola Co. and Orangina Schweppes to Kraft Foods and PepsiCo.
"Taste is king," Hecker said. "It's not in our interest for there to be bad-tasting products. Early on, there was a lot of touting of [stevia glycoside] reb-A as being the holy grail. We think of stevia as a little bit more of a spice than a sweetener. It's about the total matrix of your application. You need to do application work. You don't just take out sugar, put this in and you're done. A lot of that work has been done. The evidence is not me talking or Cargill talking, it's [PepsiCo beverage brand] SoBe Lifewater as a multi-hundred million dollar business."
Could it happen? According to this report, a section of the beer community wants to ditch the word craft. They prefer instead the term “Indie” for brewers they believe follow the enlightened path of t...
The global elite were in Switzerland last week for the World Economic Forum in Davos, the annual corporate huddle for the rich and powerful. The CEO of The Coca-Cola Co, Muhtar Kent, was there too, de...
With The Coca-Cola Co stealing yesterday's limelight with its new united marketing strategy for brand Coke yesterday, a Forbes interview with PepsiCo North America Beverages' new CMO, Seth Kaufman, sl...
It is a bold attempt to regain a measure of control in the ever-spiraling debate about sugar. But will The Coca-Cola Co's new marketing strategy - which for the first time ties all of the Coke family ...
- Aus wine industry pays price for past failures
- Six key trends for alcoholic drinks in 2016
- Carlsberg's Q4 & full-year results - Preview
- What's in store for Super Bowl 50 - Focus
- Key trends for beer in 2016 - Focus
- William Grant & Sons restructures US team
- Diageo completes wine category exit in US
- Beam Suntory targets Kenya with Edrington/FIX
- Diageo's Oban Little Bay single malt Scotch - NPD
- Diageo nears wine exit with Acacia sale to Peju
- Global travel retail insights - market forecasts, product innovation and consumer trends
- What Next for Beer and Brewers Following the MegaBrew Deal?
- Global Beer Trends 2015 : Global Beer Trends and Long-term Forecasts
- Global Whiskey Market 2016-2020
- Global sparkling wine insights - market forecasts, product innovation and consumer trends research