Sue Bancroft, global marketing director for EMEA and LATAM, PureCircle, spoke to BeverageDaily.com in advance of last week’s Food Ingredients Europe exposition in Frankfurt.
“The two sectors that are really embracing it, not just in terms of NPD but also since they’re rolling out products across Europe – are the RTD tea sector and carbonated soft drinks,” she said.
PureCircle’s focus areas at FIE included its ‘Stevia 3.0’ platform (using the less bitter Rebaudioside D extract), and ‘50 being the new 30’ – in terms of the percentage calorie reduction available in drinks – and Bancroft said that Europe accounted for 50% of launches using stevia in 2012 globally.
Projecting Mintel figures, she said PureCircle predicts the will be around 700 beverage launches in Europe in 2013 using the high-intensity sweetener.
Asked if there were any markets that had surprised PureCircle, in terms of speed of uptake, Bancroft replied: “The market where it’s taking longer, and I wouldn’t say it hasn’t taken off, because there are some big launches, is Italy.”
“Italy at the moment, I would say, isn’t as progressive as Germany, the UK and France, for example. However, we have seen that Lipton Iced Tea is in Italy, there’s a Del Monte product in Italy.”
She added: “So it’s not that it hasn’t taken off at all, but within the industry different categories have taken longer to come in with stevia.
Generally speaking though, Bancroft insisted that the message for stevia across Europe was very encouraging. In Sweden and The Nordics, for instance, there are some very exciting product introductions.
“Danone has launched a product called ProViva 50, a juice drink, in Sweden with 50% less sugar that is doing really well,” she said.
“So there are no regions in Europe that I would say are ‘dead man’s land’ for stevia – it’s a question of how and when they’re going to develop as opposed to if they’re going to develop.”