The use of natural sweeteners, such as stevia, in carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) has become an increasingly “compelling attribute” for North American consumers, stevia-sweetened soda brand, Zevia, has claimed.
Speaking with BeverageDaily.com, Zevia CEO, Paddy Spence, said that alongside the decline in US demand for full-calorie soda, consumers are increasingly turned off by the use of artificial sweeteners.
“What we’re seeing in the US market is that ‘naturally sweetened’ has become a compelling attribute for low and zero calorie beverages, and so once a consumer has decided that she’s seeking low or zero calorie options, her next question is ‘natural or artificial sweetener’?” said Spence.
“We are bringing people back to the category with a very simple value proposition: familiar CSD flavors, in a familiar package, at an acceptable price point, with the only difference being that we use a natural, zero calorie sweetener from the stevia plant.”
Naturally-sweetened “the future”
“The CSD category in the US is on a steady, multi-decade decline. That decline has been driven not by lower penetration – 96% of US households still purchase soda – but by reduced per capita consumption,” said Spence.
"More rapid declines” are, however, being seen in the diet CSD than the full-calorie segment, according to Spence.
“As the CEOs of some of the big brands in the US have recently acknowledged, people continue to love the flavor and bubbles that CSD offers, but they are not comfortable with the sweeteners.”
“In fact, we are now seeing more rapid declines in the Diet CSD segment than in full-calorie items, primarily because per capita consumption of Diet CSD among those drinkers started at a higher base, because caloric value is not a concern.”
“We believe the future of CSD is zero-calorie, naturally sweetened brands like Zevia. We fully expect that the large brands will eventually follow our lead and create similar items, but Zevia will continue to be viewed by consumers as the original, authentic brand of zero-calorie, naturally sweetened CSD," said Spence.
UK “ripe for disruption”
When launched in 2007, Zevia was the first US stevia-sweetened soda brand.
Six years later, Zevia’s now 15 flavor-strong portfolio currently holds a 78% dollar share of the naturally-sweetened US CSD segment, is the number 14 ranked low- or no-calorie CSD brand in the US, and one of only two brands within the top 15 to show positive growth last year.
On the back of its success in the US and Canada, the company is preparing to launch Zevia on the other side of the Atlantic.
“We believe the UK market shares some attributes with the US and Canada,” said Spence. “Specifically, there is a significant population of consumers who are seeking healthier food and beverage offerings, but who are not willing to make huge sacrifices," said Spence.
“Zevia has proven in the US that our products are an easy switch for consumers, and a small but meaningful step they can take to reduce their intake of sugar and artificial sweeteners.”
“The UK CSD category is ripe for disruption. There is increasing concern among both consumers and regulators about the health attributes of conventional CSDs, retailers are seeking alternatives, and the big brands have made a few attempts to innovate into better-for-you CSD offerings. We offer an authentic compelling alternative and are excited to share our ‘smarter soda’ with consumers," he concluded.