It is important to know which natural sweeteners are the best because they become an ideal option to replace other unhealthy ones. In addition, since they are also rich in essential nutrients. The culture of consumption of products of natural origin and organic products has grown significantly in the last two years, consumers concerned about their health and the health of their families have been looking for food alternatives that do not have negative consequences for your health.
The World Health Organization (WHO) wants to limit the consumption of hidden sugars in food products, such as ketchup or sweet drinks with gas, responsible for numerous health problems such as obesity, overweight and caries. A reduction below 5%, or about 25 grams of sugar per day or six tablespoons of coffee, would have additional health benefits. In this context and due to tax problems, it is necessary to develop products with fewer calories in Mexico. From the consumer’s point of view, the safety of sweeteners is accredited when the manufacturer individually submits its product to various scientific organizations recognized in our country or abroad and can be informed by means of a legend or logo.
Following this current of awareness and responsible eating, sugar substitutes play a key role as the new consumer is determined to stop consuming sugar, but also artificial sweeteners, which cause health problems and have a high caloric value. In this scenario, Stevia sweeteners were born, which are claimed to be a great alternative to replace sugar consumption because they have no calories and are made from ingredients of natural origin that do not add chemical components.
The offer is full of products from Stevia, mostly with green packaging. Some brands of stevia are very respectable, they are even sold worldwide and regularly contain kosher or parve certificates, but in Mexico we found several cases of relatively new brands that contain glucose and chemical additives that they do not declare openly on their packages and manage to deceive the public by pretending that are Stevia, since most of them do not provide zero percent calories, increase the glycemic index and have chemical elements in their formula such as sucralose.
Therefore, reading the label in this sense plays an important role. Currently, there are different brands of sweeteners. In the case of Stevia Sweeteners of Natural Origin*, there are products that, due to their internationalization, share guidelines with United States legislation, but nevertheless comply with Mexican regulations.
Currently, initiatives are migrating in Mexico to put the most important nutritional values based on the 2000 calorie diet, the famous bubbles that are now seen in front of the labels, are the three factors promoted within a healthy diet that must be controlled (fats, sugar and sodium), considering it is important to clearly know what the product must satisfy.
What was discovered when we talk about sweeteners is that certain details are found in the Mexican regulations that are controlled and well established, however it is not easy for the consumer to understand, therefore the manufacturers try to make the ingredients explained in a clear and simple way on the product packaging.
There is still a lack of initiatives that provide the consumer with greater clarity and simplicity of the amount of sugar contained in a product considered “light” or “no calories”. However, the consumer has the option of viewing the nutritional table on the back of the package in a broken down form, whereby the declared grams of sugar will have to be multiplied by the total number of servings from which the same table is composed and be able to obtain the total value of sugar per package.
Sweeteners provide the same sensations that sugar produces. This includes stevia, which has been used for a variety of purposes for many years. In addition to its use as a sweetener, its benefits for the treatment of diabetes are obvious as it does not alter plasma glucose and insulin levels.
If we talk about stevia, the best quality in this case is not based on the amount of stevia that is added to the product, but on the basis of its purity, the best quality is highlighted by steviol glycosides, which is a high purity stevia extract. Like all sweeteners, steviol glycosides need a bulking agent to carry their sweetness; There are natural ingredients like polyols that have a very low or almost zero caloric value, which is why they are the best option for sweeteners, avoiding the use of old caloric ingredients like dextrose or maltodextrin.
The market outlook shows that the sweetener segment will continue to grow, due to tax and health issues the industry would have to shift to the development of low calorie products, we are all aware of the great campaigns that have been carried out in favor of and against sugar, this is all over the world.
The task is to encourage a change in people’s habits because ultimately the consumer wants sweet food, but he needs that friendly bridge to transition to a healthier diet and this is where the industry must focus its efforts and create better products.
Therefore, their challenge is not to lose sight of two fundamental pillars: perfecting the taste and monitoring sustainable production, from the moment stevia is planted in the field to the moment it reaches the table. Likewise, it must achieve a better application in sweets and drinks and move to healthier proposals for the consumer. As an industry, we must continue to work on labeling transparency to make it easy for the consumer to read.
* Refers to Truvía, a natural zero-calorie sweetener, manufactured by Cargill and distributed in Mexico and Central America by Grupo Herdez.
Marketing Manager at Grupo Herdez.