Research firm GIA predicts polyols could soon outsell artificial sweeteners

By Ben Bouckley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Artificial sweeteners, Sweeteners, Xylitol, Stevia

Safety concerns over artificial sweeteners and the expiry of patents mean that sales volumes could soon be overtaken by polyols, says a leading market research firm.

According to a September 2010 report ‘Artificial Sweeteners’ from US-based Global Industry Analysts (GIA), the US dominates the world artificial sweeteners market, while Europe and the Asia Pacific region represent “the other major markets”​.

Said GIA: “The market for high intensity ​[artificial] sweeteners is likely to be affected by dwindling price, the entry of new market players​, particularly…in developing nations, expiry of patent protection and growing concern about their use.”

Patent protection hit the headlines in April 2009, when the International Trade Commission ruled that Chinese sucralose producers had not infringed Tate & Lyle’s production patents​ relating to Splenda (sucralose).

Meanwhile, some consumers (and thus food and beverage companies) continue to shun sweeteners such as aspartame, citing headaches and vision loss, despite EFSA reaffirming its positive safety opinion on the latter as recently as April 2010.

Natural sweeteners thrive

GIA says the public is also increasingly interest in low or zero-calorie natural sweeteners, given the backdrop of soaring diabetes and obesity figures.

“Demand for polyols would be driven by consumers’ perception of natural products and the continued interest of consumers in reducing sugar intake to combat diabetes, tooth decay and obesity.”

Cargill’s stevia-based tabletop sweetener Truvia only gained US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in mid-2008, but commands 8.2 per cent of the US ‘sugar substitute’ market, according to ACNielsen’s September sales data, surpassing Mersiant’s Equal aspartame.

EU approval for steviol glycosides in April 2010 is set to result in an upsurge in stevia-based products from Q1 of 2011, and GIA predicts increased worldwide sales of products such as stevia or bulk polyol erythritol in the short to medium-term.

​[All these factors] are paving the way for the increased usage of various natural sweeteners such as stevia and agave among others. Sugar alcohols or polyols such as erythritol are expected to surpass the artifical sweeteners in the coming few years.

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