CHICAGO — Mintel International predicts the stevia market may exceed $2 billion by the end of 2011.

The use of rebaudioside A, the active ingredient of stevia, was first approved for the food and beverage market in December 2008, and by mid-July 2009 stevia sales had exceeded $95 billion.

"The F.D.A.’s approval of stevia in food and drink opened the door for this market’s explosion," said David Browne, senior analyst at Mintel. "New product activity has accelerated in recent years and since most categories with stevia applications remain untapped, we expect many more stevia-infused product introductions in the next few years."

During the first eight months of 2009, there were more than 110 food, beverage and health care products made with stevia in the United States.

Despite the success, a Mintel survey showed nearly 70% of Americans have never heard of stevia, more than 60% have no interest in trying stevia, and 11% think it is unsafe.

Taste is another factor that may be preventing growth, Mintel said.