Despite the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of Stevia/Rebiana-based, no-calorie sweeteners in food and beverage products, less than a quarter (22%) of industry insiders report that they have considerable knowledge of the all-natural ingredient. That’s according to a recent CLEARPulse survey of food industry professionals conducted by Clear Seas Research, Troy, Mich.
In fact, only one-third of the respondents report that they know a moderate amount of Rebiana-based sweeteners. Some 46% say they know only a little or nothing at all about such ingredients, indicating that the companies that produce them have a long way to go to improve industry awareness of their products.
That said, about one-quarter (24%) of those responding noted that their companies will likely replace its current no-calorie sweetener ingredients with a Rebiana-based product. More than one-third of those surveyed said their companies will be “somewhat likely” to replace current no-calorie sweeteners with Rebiana-based ones while 42% said that it was “not very likely” or “not at all likely” that it would happen.
Some 54% of respondents indicated that processors will “partially replace” current sweeteners with Rebiana ones. Another 38% believe that Rebiana sweeteners will be used in addition to current ingredients and will not affect current sweetener usage. Only 6% said they would totally replace current sweeteners with Rebiana alternatives while 2% would not use Rebiana ones at all.
Nearly half (49%) indicated that Rebiana-based sweeteners have a “similar flavor profile” to current no-calorie ones while 30% stated that Rebiana sweeteners “taste better” and 21% said they “do not taste as good” as current sweeteners.
Overall, 86% agreed that a natural, no-calorie sweetener is appealing to consumers and 77% said they satisfy a current consumer demand while 58% agreed that the “taste” of no-calorie sweeteners is more important than if its natural or artificial. The percentages exceed 100% because respondents could agree with more than one statement.
Additionally, around half of the responding industry professionals agreed that consumers would be cautious about Rebiana sweeteners because of the debate around other no-calorie sweeteners. As far as price? Some 48% agree that consumers “will pay a premium” for a natural, no-calorie sweetener while 24% indicate that consumers care most about the “price” of no-calorie sweeteners.
Editor’s note: Clear Seas Research is owned by BNP Media, which also owns Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery magazine and SF&WB’s Operations Weekly.