Use of stevia is predicted to rise at an astonishing rate this year, taking the natural sweetener's share of the total US sugars and sweeteners market from 1.8% in 2010 to 9.1% in 2011, according to Packaged Facts.
In a new report on sugar and sweetener trends in the US, the market researcher estimates that sales of stevia will rocket from $210.6m in 2010 (1.8% of an $11.736bn retail and wholesale sugars and sweeteners market) to $1.192bn in 2011 (9.1% of an estimated $13.036bn market).
Meanwhile, sugar's share of the total market is expected to drop from 63.8% in 2010 to 58.9% in 2011, while corn sweeteners and molasses are also expected to see a dip in share from 16.8% to 15.3%.
Looking ahead, stevia will be “the runaway leader” in the retail sector and the key driver of growth in the manufacturing sector, predicts Packaged Facts.
“Much of the growth in this market is attributed to the increasing use of stevia by manufacturers to replace artificial sweeteners, high-fructose corn syrup and sugar.”
Stevia-sweetened product launches surge
The number of stevia-sweetened products has risen steadily following GRAS (generally recognized as safe) approval in December 2008, it adds, with 46 food and beverage products introduced to the market in 2009 and 76 in 2010.
“That rollout continues unabated, with stevia-based product launches increasing 918% in the 52 weeks ending April 16, 2011 according to SPINS scan data.”
Most of the new products combine stevia with one or more other sweeteners.
With regulatory approval expected in the European Union in November, stevia use is also expected to explode on the other side of the Atlantic next year, adds the report.
Other high intensity sweeteners
While Splenda sucralose remains the leading player in the US retail/tabletop sugar substitute market, its sales nevertheless dipped 5.6% from 2009 to 2010, while other high intensity sweeteners also struggled to make headway in the tabletop market following the arrival of new stevia-based products such as Cargill’s Truvia, notes the report.
“Sweet ‘N Low (saccharin), Equal and Nutrasweet (aspartame) all saw sales drop in 2010, while natural sugar substitutes saw sales increase. Truvia’s sales jumped 73.7% between 2009 and 2010.
“Splenda fell from a 61% share of the retail sugar substitute market in 2007 to 45.5% in 2010, while Truvia and Stevia in the Raw accounted for 13.8% of the market in 2010. Equal went from 12.4% of the market in 2007 to 6.5% in 2010, and Sweet N’ Low fell from 13.2% in 2007 to 11% in 2010.”
Agave-sweetened product introductions up 116% in two years
Agave nectar - a sweetener from the agave plant – featured in 110 new products in 2010 compared with 88 in 2009 and 51 in 2008, added the report.
High Fructose Corn Syrup
While the number of new product launches containing the much-maligned sweetener high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) nearly doubled between 2009 and 2010, there was also a corresponding rise in the number of new products making marketing capital out of not containing it, noted the report.
“In 2009, there were 138 products introduced in 60 categories that had a ‘no high-fructose corn syrup’ claim, with breads and rolls, cookies and functional drinks being the leading three categories.
“In 2010, there were 150 products introduced in 55 categories that had this claim, with breads and rolls, functional drinks and other savory snacks as the three leading categories.”
As for sugar, annual per capita consumption has remained fairly steady since 1985, ranging from about 42 to 46 pounds per year, says Packaged Facts.
Per capita sugar consumption increased 5.6% from 2006 to 2010, while HFCS per capita consumption declined by 18.2% over the same period, claims the report.