Promising new markets open for stevia technologies after CODEX published framework in GSFA

Brussels, 11 October 2022 – The International Stevia Council (ISC) praised the recently published Framework for Steviol Glycosides in the Codex Alimentarius (Codex) General Standard for Food Additives (GSFA). The publication of the Framework in the GSFA is the final step in the overall process. The Framework and the associated production technologies open doors to new generation stevia ingredients for food & beverage producers worldwide. It further assists to tackle challenges in creating better-for-you products with less sugar and calories.

New technologies are transforming the stevia industry by enabling the sustainable production of steviol glycosides with a better sensory profile and a cleaner taste. These include highly sought-after sweeteners such as Rebaudiosides M and D. These ingredients give product developers greater flexibility in creating food and beverages with a healthy profile and a sugar-like sweetness. Furthermore, they provide alternatives to sugar and other sweeteners.

In 2021, the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), an international scientific expert committee, adopted the ‘Safety Framework and Specifications for steviol glycosides’ encompassing four production technologies: extraction from the stevia leaf, fermentation, bioconversion and glucosylation. JECFA reviewed and ensured the highest level of safety, purity and quality of the final steviol glycoside ingredients produced by these technologies. The JECFA framework provides a path towards harmonization of the global regulatory landscape for steviol glycoside and streamlines the market approval processes in individual countries.

‎“The Framework is a major milestone for broadening the options on the use of stevia ‎and gives brands the flexibility of using stevia from different production technologies depending ‎on formulations,” said Maria Teresa Scardigli, ISC executive director. “The Framework supports any future manufacturing modifications providing they align with rules on food additives while delivering a streamlined safety evaluation approach for changes outside of the Framework.”

The use of stevia is becoming increasingly popular, with the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) recently confirming the safety of all steviol glycosides based upon their common metabolic fate. As a result, modifications to the production of steviol glycosides that still meet the current JECFA definitions and specifications will require no further evaluation.

The consumer appeal of natural ingredients drives the trend for stevia use in new product launches and the reformulation of classic favorites. According to a 2022 Innova Market Insights report on sweetener evolution for sugar reduction in the U.S.[1], stevia accounts for approximately 30% of product launches globally and is just as equal in the U.S. alone. Sports nutrition leads at 21% globally in food and beverage launches made with stevia in 2020-2021. The fastest-growing subcategories with stevia are non-dairy ice cream, yogurt, and baby drinks, with non-dairy ice cream and frozen yogurt leading to food and beverage launches at 59%, followed by baby drinks at 57%[2].

Over 65% of global launches with stevia showed major growth, with North America, Asia, and Europe on top with higher market penetration, according to Innova Market Insights in a 2021 report on stevia[3]. Consumers are driving the trend for stevia use in products, as 3 in 5 global consumers find stevia healthy, natural and sustainable.

“ISC is optimistic about the growing number of countries that will adopt The Framework to help mitigate serious health concerns and challenges in consumer behavior toward calorie reduction in diets,” said Scardigli. “With the adoption of the Framework in multiple countries worldwide, food and beverage producers can expand their sugar reduction toolkits to inspire new products and reinvent regional favorites.”

“Stevia has a tremendous potential to positively impact the consumers’ quest for better health and wellness by actively addressing calories from the sugar in their favorite foods and beverages,” said Scardigli. “The ISC will continue to raise awareness about the benefits of stevia and support advanced technologies for producing steviol glycosides as safe and trusted sweeteners.”

[1] Innova Market Insights, “Ingredients Insider: Sweetener Evolution for Sugar Reduction in the US”, 2022.

[2] Innova Market Insights , “Sugar Reduction Trends”, 2021.

[3] Innova Market Insights , “Hot Topics Stevia”, 2021.

Press contact: 

Laurence Castaigne – Communications Manager – [email protected]