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Sugar concerns spark market gains for sweeteners

By Caroline Scott-Thomas+

13-Jan-2014
Last updated on 13-Jan-2014 at 13:38 GMT

Stevia has seen a rapid rise in its market share
Stevia has seen a rapid rise in its market share

The market for high intensity sweeteners is growing rapidly, with plant-derived stevia providing the fastest growth, according to a new report from Mintel and Leatherhead Food Research.

Consumer concern about excessive sugar consumption has driven growth in the sweeteners market, with the proportion of new products containing high intensity sweeteners rising from 3.5% of all food and drink launches in 2009 to 5.5% in 2012. In their joint report on global sweeteners, the market research organisations say that this trend is set to continue.

“Much of the growth in the global sweeteners market is set to be driven by growing consumer concerns over sugar intake, whilst the development of more plant-derived sweeteners is also anticipated to benefit the market,” said Mintel food science analyst Laura Jones.

Stevia-sweetened product launches triple since 2009

Of those products that used intense sweeteners, just 5% contained solely plant-derived sweeteners such as stevia in 2009, and a further 2% used a blend of artificial and plant-derived sweeteners. In 2013, products sweetened with plant-derived sweeteners alone surged to 15% of the total, with a further 3% containing a blend of both artificial and plant-derived.

Stevia’s market share in value terms remains relatively small compared with that of other sweeteners, at just 8% of the total high-intensity sweeteners market globally. Meanwhile, sucralose has overtaken aspartame in recent years as the biggest selling sweetener.

“The gradual demise of sugar yet desire for sweetened food and drink products, suggests good opportunities for intense sweeteners,” said Jones. “Intense sweeteners offer a source of sweetness without the calorie contribution of sugar, an increasingly attractive proposition to consumers struggling to manage their weight.”

Stevia up…aspartame down

The organisations predict that the value of stevia used in food and drink products could grow to as much as $275m (€201m) by 2017 – up from $110m (€80.5m) in 2013. On the other hand, aspartame demand has been falling in recent years – and is set to continue to 2017, according to Mintel and Leatherhead – as blends of stevia and other sweeteners take a larger share of the market.

Still, aspartame is one of the world’s leading sweeteners, worth $300m globally in 2012, despite a 6.3% drop in demand since 2010 – but the biggest opportunities may lie elsewhere, the report says.

Strategic insight manager at Leatherhead, Emma Gubisch, said: “Plant-derived sweeteners, such as stevia, are expected to provide the main impetus for growth in the sweetener market in the coming years. As manufacturers work to create the right taste profile for stevia and for other plant- derived sweeteners, such as monk fruit, to obtain regulatory clearance, the artificial sweetener market still offers growth opportunities, in particular the sucralose and acesulfame-K markets.”

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