Globally, there's a shift in how we view sugar. Denmark and Mexico have already implemented sugar taxes, the UK is set to follow suit in April 2018 and a sugar tax is under active consideration in Columbia, Brazil, Portugal, South Africa, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Australia, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. 

International nations are backed by the World Health Organisation, which has issued a recommendation urging every country globally to introduce sugar tax - especially on soft drinks - as an effective way of curbing the rapid rise in obesity, diabetes and other sugar - related conditions.

''Consumption of free sugars, including products like sugary drinks, is a major factor in the global increase of people suffering from obesity and diabetes,'' said Dr Douglas Bettcher, director of the WHO's department for the prevention of non-communicable diseases. ''If governments tax products like sugary drinks, they can reduce suffering and save lives. They can also cut healthcare costs and increase revenues to invest in health services.''

With this approach gaining momentum around the world, it's no wonder that more and more food producers are looking for an alternative to sugar.

That's exactly where Stevia comes in.

Stevia as the zero-calorie alternative to sugar

NCC Food Ingredients actively works with food producers to work on 'no-added-sugar products'. We offer enzyme-treated Stevia, made by adding glucose to Stevia extract using α-glucosyltransferase. This has resulted in a whole new taste profile for Stevia. As well as the complete elimination of the bitter liquorice-like aftertaste that affected Stevia in its traditional form, it now has a taste profile far closer to sugar than anything achieved before.

Because Stevia is a natural and zero-calorie alternative to sugar, it sits outside of proposed sugar taxes. Extracted from a Paraguayan plant in the chrysanthemum family, it has been used in South America as a natural sweetener for decades. Because of its high levels of solubility and stability, Stevia can be used with particular effectiveness in soft drinks, yoghurts and purées that would otherwise fall under the sugar tax. 

Research carried out by NCC Food Ingredients’ partner has shown that Daepyung’s new grade of enzyme-treated Stevia (sold under the names Rebanten Premium and Rebanten G180) has a remarkably similar aftertaste to sugar. Its sweetness curve is also nearly identical to sugar. 

On a like-for-like basis, enzyme-treated Stevia is 170 times sweeter than sugar in the case of Rebanten Premium, and 180 times sweeter in the case of Rebanten G180. This means that far less of the product is necessary to replace sugar. 

When you factor the cost savings from the decrease in handling and storage as well as the monetary cost of avoiding the sugar tax, enzyme-treated Stevia is an extremely attractive option.

Stevia allows you to have more products on shelves

A better taste profile, stable pH and zero calories are all reasons why global giants such as Coca-Cola (Coke Life, Sprite), Nestlé (Bliss Go yoghurts) and Pepsi (Pepsi True) have all released products containing Stevia. Even Heineken released a cranberry-flavoured alcopop containing Stevia, which goes to show how long the list of potential applications is. 

In preparation for the UK sugar tax, soft drinks’ manufacturers are reformulating products ahead of the proposed changes. Ireland is one of several countried also considering introducing a sugar tax.

Lucozade Ribena Suntory announced that it would cut 50 percent of the added sugar across its product range, Coca-Cola has 200 reformulation initiatives underway, and PepsiCo (which also owns Gatorade and Tropicana juices) confirmed that all of its drinks will have fewer than 100 calories by 2025.

Customer behaviour is changing as a result of the sugar tax. In Mexico, sales of traditional soft drinks have fallen by 7.6 percent per year over the two-year period since the tax was introduced. It’s now up to producers who use sugar to figure out how to adapt.

Stevia is the answer.

Do you want more information?

Download our free eBook: "The Complete Guide to Enzyme-Treated Stevia".

If you are looking to reduce the sugar content in a food or drink you are producing then we are happy to answer any question you might have. Please get in touch with a member of our team foodsales@ncc.ie