Purchasing Stevia

Stevia is available as an ingredient in over 14,5001 food and beverage products around the world including teas, soft drinks, juices, yogurt, soymilk, baked goods, granola bars, alcoholic beverages, chewing gum, cereal, salad dressings, confections and as a tabletop sweetener. There has been a 25% increase in the number of new products containing stevia between 2008 – 2017.1

Stevia packets are common in North America, whereas tablets are more popular in Europe, and stevia liquids are preferred in South America. Other forms for stevia – such as crude stevia – may be found at alternative food stores and online, but is generally not recognized as safe in accordance with US FDA requirements.

Because stevia can be up to 350 times sweeter than sugar, you’ll need less of it to get the same level of sweetness, so it is not a 1:1 replacement. Use this conversion chart as a general guide when replacing stevia for added sugar in drinks, baking or cooking:

1 teaspoon sugar

½ cup sugar

1 cup sugar

½ stevia packet

12 stevia packets

24 stevia packets

5 drops liquid stevia

1 tsp liquid stevia

2 tsp liquid stevia

Food Labeling

Food labeling helps consumers make informed choices when purchasing food and beverage products to consume. Around the world, food policies have been put in place to ensure you have the ingredient information and the nutrients provided per serving at your fingertips on the package itself. Depending on what country you are in, you can usually find this information in an ingredient statement which lists the individual ingredients, or on a nutrition label which lists each nutrient and the amount offered per serving.

On various global nutrition labels, the calories and key nutrients in a serving of food or beverage will be listed. Importantly, you will not see stevia listed since it is zero calories and is not listed as a carbohydrate, fiber or added sugar for instance. However, you will see the benefits it provides through the reduction in overall calories per serving, and/or in the reduction of grams of “added sugars” if that is listed on the nutrition label. The exact list of nutrients included and how they are spelled out on labels does vary country by country and in many countries, changes are underway to the nutrition labeling framework too.

In the ingredient statement, which will also be found on most packaged foods and beverages unless there is only one ingredient, you will see stevia called out. Ingredients are always listed in descending order by weight, from most to least. Due to different regulations in each country, ingredients sometimes go by different names. For this reason, you may see stevia listed in the ingredient statement in these ways, but know that it is all the same:

  • Stevia
  • High purity stevia
  • Stevia extract
  • Stevia leaf extract
  • Steviol glycosides
  • Rebiana
  • Rebaudioside A (Reb A)
  • Stevioside

This list will continue to grow as different types of stevia leaf extract are approved.


REFERENCES

  1. 1 Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) September 2017