Cargill recently announced some new successes working with rebiana, a zero-calorie sweetener derived from stevia plant extract.
It's been predicted that stevia will revitalize the soft drinks industry and be the "holy grail" of sweeteners, but stevia's bitter aftertaste has proved a challenge. Cargill says it's developed ways to make various stevia-sweetened products taste natural, including cereal, yogurt, ice cream and beverages.
But after these patented techniques have done their magic, are the products still "natural"? For that matter, is the highly processed sweetener itself truly "natural"? The FDA says so, but the more hard-core organic shoppers might not be convinced.
Furthermore, price may be a limiting factor to stevia's success. According to a KnowGenix report, "stevia products are currently more expensive than other high-intensity sweetener products," though this will likely change if stevia becomes more mainstream.