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Naturally sweet: How stevia can boost drink sales in foodservice

Consumers are looking to reduce sugar in their diets and stevia offers a natural alternative that could help boost beverage sales.

4 min read


Naturally sweet: How stevia can boost drink sales in foodservice

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This post is sponsored by SPLENDA Naturals Stevia Sweetener.

More consumers are looking to reduce the amount of sugar they consume, with about half of US consumers saying they are planning to eat less sugar or buy more “no-sugar-added” products this year, according to Nielsen.  Shifts in sweetener sales are reflecting this desire to reduce sugar intake, and natural sweeteners such as stevia now account for more than 40% of the low-calorie sweetener market.  But this doesn’t have to mean losing out on beverages and dessert sales. Recipes made with stevia can provide foodservice operators and chefs with opportunities to drive sales of flavorful, reduced sugar foods and beverages.

Stevia has a wide range of applications, from snacks and baked goods to culinary uses such as sauces and dressings. Consumers have an appetite for products made with stevia — the number of new food and drink products containing the natural sweetener nearly doubled between 2012 and 2017, according to Mintel research commissioned by a stevia producer. With beverages being the most common use for the sweetener, offering options made with stevia is a great way to recover beverage sales lost to diners steering clear of sugary drinks. In addition to sweetening coffee and tea, stevia can be used in higher margin beverages such as smoothies, juice drinks or cocktails. 

Consumers voted SPLENDA Naturals Product of the Year in the sweetener category for 2017

Operators should be warned that not all stevia sweeteners are created equal. Most stevia sweeteners use a part of the stevia leaf called Reb A that can have a bitter taste that changes the flavor profile of recipes. The SPLENDA brand, however, uses a sweeter part of the stevia leaf called Reb D to create its SPLENDA Naturals sweetener so that it has no bitter aftertaste. The resulting flavor is such a hit with consumers that they voted it Product of the Year in the sweetener category for 2017. With nothing artificial, no added flavors, colors, or preservatives, SPLENDA Naturals contains only non-GMO ingredients made by minimal and common processes.

Next month, SPLENDA Naturals will sponsor a series of presentations highlighting stevia use in beverages at the National Restaurant Association Show. As part of the conference’s interactive Foodamental Studio Sessions, chef Diane Henderiks will demonstrate creative twists on a variety of different beverages that can be incorporated into foodservice settings. In addition to her culinary expertise, Chef Henderiks is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Personal Trainer with vast experience creating flavorful, natural and healthy foods.

“As a Registered Dietitian and chef, my passion is to create mouthwatering recipes that are simple to follow and made with wholesome, quality ingredients,” she said. “My philosophy is that any dish can be revamped to be better-for-you and full of flavor, it just takes a little education and finesse.”

These sessions will be live at the NRA Show on May 19, 20 and 22. A session on Saturday, May 19 will focus on non-alcoholic mocktails. The following day, Henderiks will teach participants how to make smoothies using seasonal ingredients and stevia for added sweetness. Craft beverages will be the focus of Henderiks’ presentation on May 22, when she will demonstrate ways foodservice operators can add creative flair and natural, reduced sugar options to the menu.

“By incorporating SPLENDA Naturals you get full flavor, with no bitter aftertaste, and you meet the growing demands of the health conscious customer who are turning away from sugary drinks. The foodservice industry now has a wonderful, no calorie, 100% natural stevia sweetener to confidently offer,” Henderiks said. “I am excited to share my tips and recipes in these demonstrations at the NRA show.”

All of these demonstrations will show participants how to create beverages that give restaurant guests exciting, reduced sugar options while giving operators ways to build check averages with on-trend beverages.


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