MEXICO – Sweegen, a natural sweetener company, has expanded into Mexico after the country’s food safety authority adopted the Codex Alimentarius specifications for steviol glycosides produced by different technologies.
According to Sweegen, obesity, diabetes, and associated diseases are prevalent in Mexico and has led to public health concerns. For example, adult obesity increased by 42.2 percent from 2000 to 2018.
In 2016, Mexico declared an epidemiological alert as a result of high rates of diabetes and obesity after a a World Health Organization (WHO) report, published in 2015, raised awareness on serious health issues and showed its support to Mexico’s 2014 sugar tax on all non-alcoholic beverages with added sugar. The tax resulted in fewer people buying sodas, with an overall decline of 7.6 percent.
“Mexico’s Codex adoption is a step in the right direction for tackling obesity and diabetes in adults and children stemming from high sugar in products. Streamlining the regulatory process for introducing new generation zero-calorie stevia sweeteners contributes to the improvement of overall health and wellness for consumers,” said Luca Giannone, Senior Vice President of Global Sales.
In addition to this, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reports that Mexico is the largest consumer of ultra-processed products, including sugary drinks, in Latin American countries.
“We are eager to share with brands in Mexico our expertise and high-quality ingredients for creating great-tasting, better-for-you product innovations,” Giannone said.
He added that the company is committed to investing in new technologies for offering the very best natural sweeteners to brands for tackling the challenges of sugar reduction and replacement in the formulation of food and beverages.
“The Codex framework sets a good regulatory example on welcoming better ingredients for supporting health and wellness.”
The company states that this approval by Mexico will provide greater access to less common and better-tasting steviol glycosides at scale and a more sustainable supply of zero-calorie ingredients with a taste closest to sugar.
According to the Global Sales Vice President, brands now have more sugar reduction tools at their disposal hence can rapidly develop great tasting and healthy food and beverages, sparking and inspiring new innovations and product launches.
“Behavioural conditioning through a beverage tax only goes so far. Introducing better ingredients into the food and beverage space can breathe new life into product offerings and stimulate new trends, such as plant-based products or functional beverages,” he opined.
New opportunities to connect with consumers
In 2020, the Mexican government pressured food and beverage producers in Mexico to present new front-of-package labels warning consumers of excess calories, sugar, sodium, saturated fats, and trans-fats, as well as caffeine and artificial sweeteners.
Sweegen notes that with the Codex adoption, brands have new opportunities to connect with consumers by delivering a ‘full’ sugar-like taste in food and beverages without the calories.
“The Codex framework sets a good regulatory example on welcoming better ingredients for supporting health and wellness.
“As more countries follow suit, Sweegen’s global stevia footprint will rapidly expand into more countries, providing brands better options in sugar reduction solutions where they are under government pressure, like Mexico, to produce healthy food and beverages,” said Hadi Omrani, Senior Director of Technical and Regulatory Affairs.
Unlike first-generation stevia sweeteners, the new sweeteners are made by bioconversion produce clean new generation molecules like Rebaudiosides B, D, E, I, M, and N, which are originally found in small quantities in the stevia leaf.
They are said to have a ‘clean’ sugar-like taste with a better sensory profile, and are highly sought-after by food and beverage manufacturers in countries with regulatory approvals.
“Brands in Mexico can look to Sweegen as a resource of expertise and as a committed partner for creating zero to low-calorie new product innovations that will delight consumers while supporting the country’s journey on health and wellness goals.
“We commend the food and safety authorities in Mexico for demonstrating leadership by taking action on adopting the Codex specification,” said Steven Chen, Sweegen’s Chief Executive Officer.