Stevia is a new contender in the market for substances to replace sugar in our diets. Originally from Paraguay and Brazil in South America, stevia is extracted from stevia plant’s leaves to produce a natural, calorie-free sugar substitute. While the substance has been around for centuries, it only started to become a more mainstream substance in the past decade and shows great promise to become an industry with incredible growth potential – as shown by recent studies conducted by the consultancy Research and Markets. According to the studies, they forecasted the global sales of stevia to double to $818 million by 2024.
It may look to be a pricy contender with a kilogram of stevia going for $133, which is 144% more expensive compared to the 93 cents cost of a kilogram of sugar. However, appearances are deceiving in this case as stevia is about 200 times sweeter than sugar. This leads to a far less amount of stevia required to produce the same sweetening effect as sugar. Hence, a little stevia goes a long way. Stevia wasn’t accepted right away as there were initial concerns about its usage and was banned by the US Food and Drug Administration in 1987.
Furthermore, the health effects of stevia have also been debated among health experts. Although there haven’t been any adverse health effects found, its inherent sweetness may increase cravings – leading consumers to consume far more sweet things hence doing more harm than good. As the market size for stevia grows, there will be more discoveries about the substance that will potentially increase awareness for this new product.