Go to any supermarket, convenience store or coffee shop in the United States.
You will see the words “Stevia” on many soda drinks and snack yoghurts.
The companies that make these drinks claim that such changes will make consumers healthier.
Information consulting company Euromonitor also said that in 2018, the sales volume of stevia-based food and beverages in the United States will increase to 597 tons, which is 40 times the sales volume in 2008.
Stevia is a compound extracted from the leaves of the Stevia Rebaudia (Compositae) plant.
It has a low calorie content and a sweet taste, and is known by many food and beverage producers as a new type of natural sweetener.
According to a report by market research firm Mintel, in 2012, stevioside-added products also accounted for less than a quarter of global sugar substitutes, but in August last year, this figure had reached 27%, exceeding the original most widely used aspartame.
Mintel's data shows that American consumers aged 18 to 34 are more concerned about the sugar content of foods.
They believe that eating less sugar can help control weight, but they do not believe that artificial sweeteners such as aspartame can be used.
About half of consumers think that the use of sugar substitute soda is as unhealthy as the original soda.
This gives opportunities for the rise of stevia.
Earlier this year, Coca-Cola released a new generation of Coca-Cola Life as an upgraded version of the stevia coke launched in 2013.
In 2016, Pepsi launched the 7up, which added stevia in India;Nestle, which recently announced that it would continue its sugar-reduction program, also added stevia to Sanpellegrino( a fruit drink) instead of 40% of white sugar.
China began to grow stevia from the late 1970s. Now it has become the world's highest producer and exporter of stevia and accounts for 80% of the world's production.
China's main export destination for Stevia is the United States, which accounts for 1/3 of total exports.
Chinese manufacturers are also expanding investment in the planting of Stevia to meet the growing demand across the globe.
In 2000, China's export of stevia was less than US$1 million. By 2016, it had reached US$1.45 billion, ranking first among all plant extracts.