Stevia Is Sweet, But sugar reduction is no joke: Challenges faced by food formulators


Stevia formulation is a growing trend that influences almost every food business today. Ever since sugar was recognized as a public health villain and consumers got to know about the sugar health connection that could lead to metabolic disorders like diabetes, obesity and chronic cardiovascular illnesses, the regulatory landscape changed. We are now at a stage where anyone hardly prefers sugar over other sweetening options available in the market.

In such a time of crisis, stevia comes off as a no-brainer choice over any other option that might be presented. Especially after consumer attitudes towards sweetness were taken into consideration and naturalists came up as the major group with over 30% of the total wanting to opt for natural non-nutritive sweeteners instead of the natural ones. But this change isn’t the easiest for food formulators. As we move forward with the article, we will dive into what goes into changing the formulation of a product, what challenges are tackled along the way and what could be a long term solution. Hold your seats tight, let’s get started with this.

Cause for change-

Changes in labelling regulations have also put sugar under scrutiny. The idea of also mentioning added sugar along with the total carbohydrate content is a step that just makes people more aware about the sugar content in the product and promotes sugar reduction. Such things just add to the increasing demand of sweeteners like stevia that have just changed the sweetness game in food and beverage industries.

Food and beverage formulators are very well aware that they cannot afford to ignore the rising calls to cut all the sugar out, but, at the same time, switching out sugar in a formulation is not a simple substitution. Consumers are not only looking for lesser calories, but also demanding for natural alternatives that deliver to both consumer expectations and demands from the food that is served to them.

The road to change-

To start with, if you are only familiar with sugar’s role in the formula as just a sweetener, sugar reduction and replacement of it may seem like a no big deal. But , as food shifts towards cleaner and more natural labels, product formulators are aware that natural sweeteners are not a one-to-one substitute for sugar.

Multiple natural alternatives fail to replicate the sweetness of sucrose, for example, some may peak higher, some may be less or more intense, some may leave a different aftertaste and some may linger longer than necessary. Some other natural sweeteners may have an artificial flavour that will require maskers or modifiers to combat it.

Though it is much tough to replicate sugar’s quality as a sweetener and a flavour enhancer, sugar’s role isn’t just limited to that. Often, food formulators use multiple ingredients to make up for sugar’s functionality. It is well known that other than balancing the bitter flavours, sugar also has an active role in mouthfeel, functionality, texture and taste.

Formulations and stevia involvement-

As more and more sweeteners come into light, and the number of ingredients gains a peak, ingredient companies are now shifting towards newer and better processing and extraction methods, bringing new sweeteners into existence, all better than the others available right now.

One place where these advancements are blossoming is stevia industries. Stevia has shown excellent signs of growth and the data is undeniably leaning towards stevia as a sugar alternative in many reduced-sugar products. But for the producers of stevia, it comes with challenges of its own. Not everyone likes the taste of stevia; the primary factor that makes people buy anything is the taste. Stevia’s aftertaste, as claimed by many people, tastes bitter for them, making it undesirable. Not to mention that it may become unstable in many solutions.

Stevia related innovation is the very heart of Arboreal, a brand completely based on exclusively processed high quality stevia that caters to all the consumer and manufacturer needs. The related innovation is all about emerging with different and more sustainable production and processing methods of steviol glycosides, the compounds responsible for stevia’s sweetness. Isolation and extraction are two principles that make all the difference and usher in more opportunities to incorporate stevia into food. Arboreal’s extraction process is one of a kind and disregards any use of acids or alkalis, making it the best that anyone can get.

Other challenges to look for-

However, with stevia, some challenges that food formulators might face are their use, taste, cost and formulation. To counter that, sweetener blends are the age new solution where sweeteners can work in synergy with other sweetening compounds to deliver better functionality. One example of this is the blend containing erythritol and stevia, developed by the producers of stevia; a blend that is capable of fixing multiple problems by balancing the sweetness, reducing off-taste and off-flavour, intensifying and acting as a bulking agent.

Increasing consumer demand for natural sweeteners and the growing trend of sugar reduction pitches in more and more opportunities for producers of stevia as well as food formulators but it is clear that stevia is not as simple as sugar. Methods like that of blending, different production and processing and studying the chemistry of the food in question make all the difference. But once used, stevia creates a better, more cost effective and a healthier base in food products that we largely consume.

As mentioned earlier, Stevia related innovation is the very heart of Arboreal, a brand completely based on exclusively processed high quality stevia that caters to all the consumer and manufacturer needs. The dynamic rise in consumer demand calls for action today. Actions that Arboreal can help you take. At Arboreal, we present a one store solution to all your stevia needs that require fulfilment. Book a free consultation with us to learn more about how we can help you reduce sugar in your product.