The market research organisation conducted an online survey of consumers aged 16 and over and found that despite stevia’s generally positive image in Germany, about a third (31%) still say it is neither good nor bad for their health, and 29% don’t know if stevia is healthy. More than one in 10 (13%) think that stevia is bad for their health, compared to 28% who think it is good for health.
“As obesity creeps up on the nation, stevia’s plant-based origin makes it an attractive sweetener for health conscious German consumers,” said Mintel’s senior food and drink German analyst Katya Witham. “But lack of familiarity with stevia indicates that more educational efforts are required from the German food and drink industry to drive usage, which is then set to present considerable future opportunities for the stevia market.”
Stevia-derived sweeteners have taken off in diverse product categories in Germany, according to the organisation’s Global New Products Database. From July 2014 to June this year, 16% of hot drinks launched in Germany contained stevia, as did 14% of juice drinks, 14% of sugar and gum confectionery, and 11% of chocolate products.
“2014 saw major food and drink brands launching their first stevia-based products in Germany, bringing stevia to a more prominent position. While multinationals have taken the lead on stevia innovation in Germany, smaller players will likely follow suit in the near future,” Witham said.
The market researcher noted that among sugar and sweeteners, consumers were more likely to consider stevia to be healthy in comparison to other sweeteners, including agave, raw sugar, brown sugar and high intensity sweeteners. The only exceptions were honey and maple syrup – which 68% and 33% of consumers considered to be good for health respectively (compared to 28% for stevia) – and Mintel suggests this could be because of consumers’ greater familiarity with these.
In general, German consumers are trying to cut their sugar intake, and among those trying to lose weight, 31% seek reduced sugar products.