Posted on January 21st, 2014
by Robert Brooke
Greetings once again! Welcome back to our blog and thanks for following us. As a member of the growing stevia industry, I truly enjoy the opportunity to offer insights into our sector and we always look forward to, and welcome your feedback. Recently a trade industry article was published that describes our company’s work and “the unstoppable rise of stevia”, and I hope to examine this attitude which many share, along with some of the enthusiasm behind the upsurge of interest in stevia.
Some executives in the sweetener industry are of the mindset that taste and cost are all that matters. Luckily, stevia already delivers on this front in a big way, evidenced by stevia sweetened beverages like Vitaminwater Zero topping $100 million in sales in its first year. Next-generation stevia sweeteners and blends hold promise to do even better for the industry, and these new product releases are just getting started. The focus on taste and cost is critical, but there are also deeper reasons that are worth examining as to why people are attracted to sweeteners in the first place, and stevia in particular, which also explains why consumers are unlikely to be turning away from sweetened products anytime soon.
First of all, our enjoyment of sweetness is deeply rooted in our physiology. We most likely evolved the perception of sweetness in order to steer us towards healthy and nutritious foods, although not necessarily fruit. Interestingly, fruit may have actually adapted and spiked its sweet taste in order to suit our taste buds, promoting its own agenda, and ensuring its survival through our desire for it. In that sense, it seems to share a bit in common with the multinational beverage companies…
In any case, it’s also been found recently that our perception of sweet taste is strongly interconnected with our sense of love and affection. Thinking about love literally makes your food and drinks taste sweeter, and this connection is stronger than other common taste and mood pairs (e.g. like bitterness and anger, or sweetness and happiness). This means when you taste sweetness it activates some of the very same parts of the brain that get triggered only when you have really strong affection for others. Although it’s difficult to read too much into these findings, it certainly provides a plausible explanation for why so many people could crave sweetness, and why many even feel their life is empty without it.
Yet another reason consumers are drawn to stevia relates to our innate love for the natural world, which some call our “biophilia”, a term popularized by the biologist Edward O. Wilson. Consumer interest along these lines is undeniable as evidenced by an organic food and beverage industry that has seen sales climb from $1 billion in 1990 to more than $25 billion in 2010. Consumer feelings for organic products can be intense, and it makes sense when you consider that they’re tapping into our instinctive bond with other living things. This is part of our desire for all livings things around us to flourish, which manifests in many ways. One example is how adult humans generally think baby human faces are adorable, as well as the faces of other baby mammals, and also small plants – we really want to see those little guys grow and thrive, it’s in our DNA. Embracing your inner “biophilia” also may have positive effects in ways that aren’t well understood today, such as how it’s been shown recently that moving to greener urban spaces is associated with sustained improvements in mental health.
Perhaps the most rational form of this desire is in seeking products and ways to promote health and environmental sustainability and comparing their relative impact using rigorous metrics. With stevia as a product that could enable calorie reduction on a massive scale, and one that uses 80% less carbon and 95% less water than sugar, it delivers incredibly well on both of these key factors.
It’s important to keep in mind that certain products in the marketplace already attempt to take advantage of these deeply rooted desires of ours in somewhat deceptive ways. We could name names, but there are only so many hours in the day, and no product is perfect. But when we focus on stevia, and what sets it apart, we see that it hits all of these psychological reward centers, and nothing rings untrue or hollow about it. It’s an incredibly sustainable product from an ecological standpoint, and it is clearly is a healthier alternative. When you look at these factors together, it’s hard to argue with “the unstoppable rise of stevia.”
We here at Stevia First are certainly true believers, and although there’s plenty of work to do yet, we are already making a difference through product and brand awareness, and the development of key enabling technologies for the industry.
We hope you find these concepts instructive towards gaining insights into the industry and what makes it tick, and for possibly even helping you or those around you to better understand these desires we share. Thanks for taking the time to read, learn and pass on your encouragement, and please feel free to provide comments to us on Twitter @SteviaFirstCorp.
Stevia First Corp.
Forward Looking Statements
This blog contains "forward-looking statements" as that term is defined in Section 27(a) of the United States Securities Act of 1933, as amended and Section 21(e) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Statements in this blog which are not purely historical are forward-looking statements and include any statements regarding beliefs, plans, expectations or intentions regarding the future. Such forward-looking statements include, among other things, projections of worldwide sales of stevia products, growth of stevia production and global markets. Actual results could differ from those projected in any forward-looking statements due to numerous factors. Such factors include, among others, the inherent uncertainties associated with new projects and development stage companies. These forward-looking statements are made as of the date of this blog post, and we assume no obligation to update the forward-looking statements, or to update the reasons why actual results could differ from those projected in the forward-looking statements. Although we believe that any beliefs, plans, expectations and intentions contained in this blog are reasonable, there can be no assurance that any such beliefs, plans, expectations or intentions will prove to be accurate. Investors should consult all of the information set forth herein and should also refer to the risk factors disclosure outlined in our annual report on Form 10-K for the most recent fiscal year, our quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and other periodic reports filed from time-to-time with the Securities and Exchange Commission.