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Younger consumers more accepting of stevia-sweetened foods

20/7/2012, 10:38 pm, Post: Admin

Younger consumers more accepting of stevia-sweetened foods

Stevia works well as a sweetener in ice-cream, a Belgian study has found. ROGIL, a European Sensory Network member, conducted a study using 50 test subjects to determine whether steviosides from Stevia rebaudianawould be accepted as a sugar substitute in ice-cream.

Half of the subjects were aged 20 to 45, while the other half were aged 46 to 65. In a blind taste test, the subjects sampled ice-cream with sugar and ice-cream with Stevia in varying orders.

While the subjects found no significant difference between the two types of ice-cream, the younger group were more accepting of the Stevia ice-cream than their older counterparts. In the overall rating, the older group rated the Stevia ice-cream lower than the younger group (6.8 compared to 7.8 points out of 10) and rated the aftertaste of the Stevia ice-cream as less enjoyable than the sugar-sweetened ice-cream (6.5 compared to 7.5).

Approximately a third of the older group found the stevia ice-cream slightly too sweet. Three-quarters of the older group preferred the sugar-sweetened ice-cream, while 50% of the younger group preferred the stevia variety.

In terms of purchasing, 76% of the older group said they would buy sugar-sweetened ice-cream, but only 52% would consider buying the stevia product. The difference was less pronounced in the younger group: 68% would buy the traditional sugar ice-cream, while 59% would purchase the stevia ice-cream.

Study leader Veerle Daems concluded that younger target groups, who have grown up with various alternative sweeteners, are more likely to accept stevia as a sweetener in ice-cream. While older consumers preferred ice-cream sweetened with sugar, many of them enjoyed the taste of the stevia product.

“When consumers are informed of the health advantages of stevia, it becomes a real alternative to the traditional use of sugar,” Daems said.

As of November 2011, the EU has approved the use of stevioside from the Stevia rebaudiana plant as a food sweetener. The food industry is still trialling its use in food products, as it does not have a one-to-one taste relationship with sugar - being 50 to 400 times sweeter than refined sugar - and can have a liquorice-like taste and bitter aftertaste.

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