The market for alternative sweeteners is rapidly increasing and is predicted to reach US$870 million in 2020 after annual profits of 3.7 percent.

While still craving sweetness, consumers are more wary of high-sugar products that include or add artificial ingredients. Manufacturers can make use of stevia to sweeten beverages naturally and in a healthy way. By Dina Yeon, marketing manager, Sweetness Springboard, Ingredion Asia Pacific

The miracle berry from Africa, otherwise known as Synsepalum dulcificum, contains a protein called miraculin which is able to suppress sourness and elicit a sweet flavour. This could have some potential in reducing sugar content of sour drinks.

With the growing traction of plant protein drinks in China, international consulting company CCM predicts a strong future for functional sugar.

Straits Wholefoods has launched an all-natural organic sweetener harvested from the male flower stalks of the arenga pinnata tree. This sweetener makes for a healthy sugar that is low glycaemic, containing only half the glycaemic load of cane sugar and honey.

On top of that, the sweetener is rich in minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, sodium and copper. It consists up to 50 times more minerals than in white sugar, and up to three times more potassium than bananas. It is also rich in vitamins, such as vitamin C and the highly valued B12.

The sweetener is versatile in its applications, and can be used in any recipe to replace cane sugar, with its creamy caramel taste and a pleasant aroma.

Sweet is a taste that most people cannot give up, but with more consumers becoming health-conscious and demanding for foods with less or no sugar, manufacturers need to overcome this challenge and meet the demand with sugar alternatives. One possible solution is through stevia, which doubles as a functional ingredient. By PureCircle

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