Added sugar is one of the most troublesome elements in today's diet, having been connected significant ailments such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Personally, I strive to look for healthier food alternatives and sugar has been on top of my list. Initially, I tried to omit sugar from my diet completely but upon researching I came across stevia based natural sweeteners such as the Natvia 100% Natural Sourced Sweetener. This I found to be a great replacement for sugar and is good for tea, coffee, cooking and baking. It is a bit too sweet than sugar in my opinion but that can be fixed by cutting portions during usage. The sweetener can be found at Tesco UK and retails for £5.39 (300g), which is quite affordable considering consumers have to use less given the higher-level of sweetness and is a relatively sustainable and healthier alternative to sugar. Stevia based sugar alternatives are overall quite sustainable by default, thus my overall rating for this particular product is 0.5 considering the company under review doesn’t provide information on its sourcing, manufacturing or packaging. Generally, most of the world’s stevia is grown in China and China has been known for violating labour rights and exercising poor environmental practices. Therefore, it would have been vital if Natvia could share more information.
Natvia 100% Natural Sourced Sweetener is made up of two ingredients: Organic Steviol Glycosides (also known as stevia) (0.5) and Erythritol. Stevia is a sugar substitute derived from the stevia plant's leaves. It's 100 to 300 times sweeter than table sugar, but it's free of carbs, calories, and artificial ingredients. To produce the same quantity of sweetness as other natural sweeteners, Stevia takes less land, water, and energy. Using sweetness equivalency as a reference, a carbon and water footprint evaluation by one of the top stevia manufacturers concluded that stevia had an 82 percent lower carbon footprint than beet sugar and a 64 percent lower carbon footprint than cane sugar. Stevia has a 92 percent lower water footprint than beet sugar and a 95 percent lower water impact than cane sugar. Natvia claims to obtain its stevia from organic stevia plants and exclusively uses the tip of the plant to manufacture its sweetener. This part of the plant is known as Reb A and is the sweetest part of stevia plant. Much of the world's stevia is cultivated in China, and therefore, despite the company’s claims of using only organic farmers, I wonder how the labour laws play out in this supply chain.
The second ingredient in the sweetener is Erythritol. Erythritol is natural sugar present in fruits such as melons and grapes. Personally, I feel these ingredients are a great alternative to sugar. However, I am inclined to rate the company low against this metric because the company doesn’t provide the exact souring of these ingredients. They are, however, CERES (Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies) Certification of Environmental Standards GmbH certified, which ensures organic farming (The certification is carried out through a multi-step assessment procedure and also includes surprise inspection of the certified organizations). This gives some credibility to their product, however, there is no further break-down given by the company and thus I am inclined to rate them as low as 1.
I have noticed that the company uses non-plastic cardboard like packaging. Although there is no information on exactly what material they use, it is worth noticing that the material is not plastic and could possibly be more sustainable.
This part of the company was quite surprising as there was no concrete information given on the company’s website. Instead, their website and packaging say the following: “Natviarol™ is our exclusive natural manufacturing process that makes Natvia taste great.”. In my opinion, this is quite questionable as manufacturing doesn’t have to do with imitation of the product formula and thus not disclosing the process is suspicious. The company only produces one product at the moment so there is quite a lot they can do in this metric.
Additionally, as mentioned before, much of the stevia is grown in China and Natvia is an Australian brand, therefore, I can’t help but wonder about the impact of delivering the raw material to the production unit as well as them selling the finished product in the UK. In case more information was present, it would have been interesting to know if this could be a major contributor (or not) to their carbon footprint.
Natvia is a 100% Australian brand. The 100% Natural Sourced Sweetener is their first and only product. From the looks of it the company is somehow following the trajectory of a conventional smaller sustainable brand and has a reputable certification (CERES Certification of Environmental Standards GmbH) to its name, however, there is very less information available to mark it any higher. Overall, I would like to keep using the product owing to its health benefit and the promise of the certification. I do look forward to them disclosing more information.