Stevia originally comes from Paraguay and Brazil, and has since ancient times been used in Latin America. In December 2008 stevia was approved as a food additive in the United States, and three years later in Europe. In Japan, the plant has been used as a sweetener since the 70s. One reason that stevia has reached many Swedes consciousness is the product Coca-Cola Life and that several other companies like Vitamin Well, Alvesta Glass and Weightwatchers also has products including stevia.
Stevia is a natural, completely calorie-free product that isn’t adversely affected by heat, is PH-neutral and therefore not plaque-forming. Furthermore stevia does not affect blood sugar levels. Stevia is really on the rise. The conclusion of several market studies speak for themselves – Stevia will constitute 20–25 per cent of the high-intensity sweeteners for European consumers. In a period of time when WHO recommends us to reduce our sugar intake by at least half this feels like a natural development.
– Sugar reduction and natural products are nowadays two of the leading trends in the food and beverage industry, but we must not forget that there is also an underlying problem. Diabetes and obesity are widespread diseases that are increasing rapidly, and stevia have significant health advantages compared to sugar, says Sophia Horn Af Rantzien, CEO of The Real Stevia Company.
It is important for the company that the production is carried out in a proper manner, that the farmers get paid well for the stevia leaves and that the extracts are produced in a pure and simple way as possible. The Real Stevia Company is the world leader in organic production of stevia leaves. And the industry organization International Stevia Council (ISC), which The Real Stevia Company co-founded in 2010, promotes good quality and is a guarantor for the food industry.
The Real Stevia Company distributes stevia to various food producers, which in turn are making for example chocolate, protein powders and drinks. The company is also constantly in the top in various consumer surveys among food producers when taste is campared.
– Taste is a very important part, but it is also important that it is produced in a sustainable manner, both environmentally and socio-economically. We make sure to contract farmers in Paraguay for five years so they become creditworthy, can receive micro financing and their children can go to school. Furthermore they do not need to spend any money for the plants, says Sophia Horn Af Rantzien and adds:
– In China the farmers are middle-income earners. There we look more at how we can improve environmental and working conditions.
The future of the stevia industry looks bright and sustainable. Responsibility simply tastes better.