Posted by Dale Buss on October 11, 2010 05:30 PM
Just a few years after making its appearance in all-natural beverages and other “foodie” items, stevia-based products are stepping up their bid for a bigger share of the sugar-substitute market that has been dominated for a decade by Splenda.
Just as the battle over high-fructose corn syrup and sugar — and America's battle with obesity — heats up, Cargill’s Truvia brand has launched a multi-million-dollar advertising campaign with the tagline "Honestly Sweet" and plans to take the no-calorie sweetener brand’s relationship with consumers to the next level, from mere awareness to an emotional connection.
The campaign focuses on a consumer’s relationship with sweets and portrays Truvia-based products as a solution to the dilemma posed by craving something sweet. The ads follow up on an educationally oriented campaign initiated by Cargill — one of the world’s largest food companies — in late 2008 when it was introducing Truvia.
The powerful sweetener is made from a substance called rebiana, which is extracted from the leaf of stevia, a native South American plant in the sunflower family. It is included in a range of diet beverages including Glaceau Vitaminwater 10 and Vitaminwater Zero and Coca-Cola’s Sprite Green.
Stevia has made great progress in the low-calorie beverage segment through positioning as a truly natural alternative to sugar. Consumers have always perceived Splenda – the brand name for sucralose – as a chemical substitute even though marketers Tate & Lyle and McNeil Nutritionals have described it as being derived from sugar. At least Splenda doesn’t claim to be “natural” like stevia.
After only 20 months on the market, Truvia is the No. 3 sugar substitute in the U.S., having surpassed Merisant’s venerable Equal, an aspartame-based product. Merisant and PepsiCo market their own stevia product, called PureVia.
Stevia also has created big enough supplier network that two trade organizations have been announced around the product, as more stevia applications take hold around the world.
It might only be another few years before stevia shoves aside sucralose, just as the latter overtook Nutrisweet and Equal.