5 minute | Long read

Turn over a new leaf

Meet the demand for sweet-tasting, reduced sugar foods and beverages with pioneering stevia leaf ingredients. 

September 01, 2021 | Sugar reduction

Stevia's changed. Have your formulations?

Consumers are increasingly looking for foods and beverages sweetened using plant-based ingredients. The next-generation of leaf-based stevia solutions can help you meet this demand by:

  • enhancing taste
  • reducing sugar
  • enriching nutrition
  • adding functionality to your products.

This guide looks at how the latest stevia-leaf ingredients are advancing formulation possibilities across all applications to develop zero/low-sugar foods and beverages that taste great, deliver on texture expectations, offer good cost-in-use, and support your sustainability story. All with a plant-based offering and a consumer-friendly label too.

In this three part guide, we explore;

Health & wellness

Meeting the thriving health and wellness trend.


New formulation opportunities enabled by stevia’s advanced functionality.

Beyond beverages

Going beyond sweetening with stevia’s diverse applications and categories.  

Supporting the health and wellness trend

Stevia leaf ingredients help you meet the growing demand for zero and reduced sugar products with plant-based solutions.

A healthy diet

Today’s consumers are more aware of the link between the food they eat and a healthy lifestyle. There is an increasing desire to understand what goes into foods and beverages, and scrutiny of ingredient lists and label claims is actively influencing purchasing decisions. Alongside the general wellbeing trend, weight management concerns are key drivers of product development as rising global obesity levels continue their upward trend – by 2025, over 1 billion adults are projected to be obese, a >65% increase from 2016.[1]

Innovative ingredient and formulation solutions that balance calorie reduction, nutritional value, and that all-important great taste and texture have a role to play in supporting the food and beverage industry to meet these global health challenges. As a zero-calorie, plant-based sweetener, and flavor modifier, stevia-leaf solutions offer the versatility, functionality, and nutritional profile to formulate products that are part of a healthy lifestyle. 

The demand for plant-based

The consumer preference for “natural” claims, minimally processed products, and short, simple ingredient lists continues. Ingredients need to be recognizable but increasingly they must also be plant-based. This is driven by greater awareness and wider adoption of a vegan, vegetarian, and flexitarian-based diet as the health and sustainability benefits of plant-based lifestyles are openly debated and shared.

[1] Prevalence of Obesity | World Obesity Federation

"7 out of 10 consumers are familiar with stevia."

Toluna, Sweetener Study, July 2019

Stevia’s credentials in this respect are strong. As a sustainably grown, plant-based ingredient, it is perceived as “natural” by consumers and as a “plant-derived sweetener”[1] – with 7 in 10 people saying they are familiar with stevia.[2] Stevia’s growing acceptability and awareness is also reflected in global new product launch trends.

Sustainable sourcing

The plant-based trend extends into wider sustainability and environmental considerations for consumers, too. Buying locally, understanding production methods, ingredient traceability, and ethical sourcing are factors that now influence consumer buying behavior.

[1] [2]  Toluna, Sweetener Study, July 2019

"PureCircle by Ingredion is the only stevia producer with a fully transparent and traceable supply chain."

PureCircle by Ingredion

PureCircle is the only stevia producer in the world with a vertically aligned supply chain, providing full transparency and 100% ingredient traceability. With ownership and visibility at every step of the stevia planting and production process, food and beverage manufacturers can be confident that their own sustainability goals are reflected through their choice of stevia leaf ingredients and in their product formulations.  

Less sugar, more consumer appeal

In Ingredion’s 2020 consumer research, 70% of respondents in EMEA said a no added / reduced sugar label is important, while 60% would be willing to pay more for this type of claim.[1] With over 40[2] governments already proposing or passing sugar taxes or label legislation, and new no added sugar product launches increasing by 94% between 2017-19,[3] this global trend is heading in only one direction.

Stevia leaf solutions are an essential part of successful reduced sugar formulations. Technical know-how, such as zero-added sugar capability with better upfront sweetness, and product innovation, including optimized cost-in-use varietals, flavor modifiers, and category-specific solutions, are broadening the sweet-taste possibilities across a range of applications. Our next section looks at how.

[1] Ingredion Atlas Research 2020, EMEA.  [2] Ingredion-sourced statistic.  [3] Innova, Global New Products Database

Improved functionality, more effective formulation 

How the next generation of stevia leaf ingredients is advancing formulation possibilities.

Stevia-based ingredients and solutions offer an ever-increasing range of functional benefits to create great-tasting, low or no calorie products. But successful formulation is about more than ingredients. PureCircle combines being the world’s leading producer of stevia ingredients with a strong heritage of scientific innovation and technical expertise.

This powerful combination is advancing stevia’s functionality, opening up new application possibilities, improving cost-in-use, enhancing flavor, and successfully mimicking the sweetness intensity of sugar that consumers love – with none of the calories and with added plant-based appeal. These developments can help food and beverage organizations expand product ideation while formulating cost-effectively and delivering consumer-winning products.  

Stevia-leaf solutions offer more than sugar- and calorie-reduction

Optimized sweetness

Formulating with next-generation, plant-based stevia ingredients delivers the sugar-like taste and upfront sweetness that consumers prefer. Whether it’s achieving optimal sweetness in a zero-added sugar formulation or 50% sugar reduction with taste improvement, successful formulation requires technical expertise to balance and blend ingredients, and create the optimal sweet taste for each application.

Cleaner taste

PureCircle’s proprietary stevia leaf varietals have been developed to deliver a superior clean taste profile that offers a more balanced sweetness and suppresses off-notes for a great tasting, consumer-friendly product. New stevia extracts produce a high intensity sweetness that enables even the deepest of sugar reduction applications to benefit from their plant-power, with no bitterness or compromise on taste.    

Enhanced flavor

Stevia’s versatility is evolving. Stevia-based flavor modifiers go beyond sweetness optimization to balance flavor combinations, enhance savory and sweet notes, unlock taste synergies, and rationalize ingredients to create the best taste at the best cost. Multitasking flavor modifiers can amplify the effects of other ingredients, such as vanilla and cocoa, and boost complex savory tastes, including smoky and salty combinations.

Better solubility

A combination of innovative stevia varietals and technical expertise can effectively solve the stevia solubility challenge. With the right blend of stevia ingredients and relevant formulation know-how, even complex categories, such as zero-sugar carbonated and energy beverages, can achieve a deep sugar reduction that tastes great and creates no ingredient separation. 

High processing stability

Stevia’s plant-based power is benefiting a growing range of applications. With its excellent heat stability, even the toughest of processing conditions, such as dairy and high heat, can now incorporate stevia into their formulations. Offering good light and shelf-life stability, stevia is fast becoming the ideal plant-based ingredient in diverse categories. 

Solving sugar’s functionality

Bulking and browning challenges in reduced and no-sugar formulations can be solved with the correct functional toolkit. Create the optimal sweet taste with stevia varietals then build back texture with plant-based fibers that deliver a consumer-friendly appearance, label, and eating experience. 

Reimagine sweet taste

Beyond beverages: discover new application opportunities

Understand the versatility and diverse applications of stevia leaf ingredients


Give crispy cereals a sugar-free, sweet coating or boost buttery flavors in your baked goods using PureCircle Sigma Bakery solutions.

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Infuse drinks, syrup concentrates and more with bold flavors and clean sweetness using PureCircle Sigma Beverage.

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Our PureCircle Sigma Dairy solutions help you reduce sugar without sacrificing the flavors that make dairy so delicious.

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Sports nutrition

For an extra edge in the gym, on the job or in daily life, PureCircle Sigma Sport is specially-designed to pump up taste in protein shakes, nutrition bars and supplements.

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Partner with PureCircle

Discover new opportunities in plant-based sugar reduction with PureCircle by Ingredion. Challenge us to enhance the taste, reduce the sugar, enrich the nutrition, and add functionality to your products.

Contact us