How to Find 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 were more than 3500 new food and beverage product launches containing stevia in 2017 across the globe, which is 14 times the number of new launches in the year 20081 when stevia obtained generally recognized as safe (GRAS) status in the US.
Single-serve tabletop stevia packets and bulk packages for home cooking purposes are common in North America, while stevia tablets are more popular in Europe and Asia and stevia liquids are preferred in South America. The stevia approved for use in most tabletop and food and beverage products across the globe are high-purity stevia leaf extracts which contain ≥ 95% steviol glycosides, the sweet molecules found in the stevia leaves. On the other hand, crude stevia leaf extracts are approved as a supplement, and can be found online and in alternative food stores, but are not approved for use in food and beverage products in the US. However, crude extracts are used in certain countries, such as Japan since the 1970s
Since 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 purchasing and replacing stevia for added sugar in drinks, baking or cooking:
|1 teaspoon sugar||½ stevia packet||5 drops liquid stevia|
|½ cup sugar||12 stevia packets||1 tsp liquid stevia|
|1 cup sugar||24 stevia packets||2 tsp liquid stevia|
Food labels help consumers make informed choices when purchasing food and beverage products. Food regulations have been put in place by regulatory authorities to ensure you have the nutrient and ingredient information provided per serving or per package, at your fingertips. This labeling on the package itself, helps you make informed decisions. When looking for stevia, know you can usually find stevia listed in the ingredient statement of a food or beverage product.
Most nutrition labels around the globe list calories and key nutrients, including the sugar content of the product per serving, in the nutrition facts section of the label. Because stevia it is a zero-calorie sweetener it does not contribute to the calorie content of a product. However, you will see the benefits it provides through the reduction in overall sugar and calories per serving. In those countries where “total sugars” and/or “added sugars” are listed under carbohydrates, you should see a reduced amount of sugar in stevia-containing food or beverage products compared to similar full-sugar products.
Ingredients are usually listed in descending order by weight, from most to least. Due to different regulations across the globe, ingredients can sometimes go by different names from one country to another. For this reason, you may see stevia listed in the ingredient statement in these ways, but know that all of these indicate the presence of stevia (steviol glycosides):
- High purity stevia
- Stevia extract
- Stevia leaf extract
- Steviol glycosides
- Steviol glycosides (E960)
- Rebaudioside A (Reb A)
- 1 Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) September 2017