Sugar is the sweetener traditionally used during food manufacturing, and it still accounts for the majority of the global sweetener market, representing nearly 80% (data sourced from LMC). However, new technologies and commercialization of food industry R&D outcomes combined with market forces shaped by consumer’s growing awareness of health and the role excessive sugar consumption plays in the pathology of our most common chronic diseases has seen the market share of sugar shrink and witnessed a concomitant increased demand for high intensity sweetener (HIS).
HIS can be classified into natural high intensity sweetener and synthetic high intensity sweetener and is characterized by its high-potency and low calorific value. These desirable properties have also seen high intensity sweetener increasingly utilized by the beverage, pastry and biscuit industry, including:
According to data sourced from British LMC, the annual yield of high intensity sweetener reached 15.8 million tons globally in 2012. China contributed significantly to overall production. In 2017, China was the world’s leading HIS manufacturer (77% of global production) and data points to a sustained upward growth trajectory in overall volume and value.
Worldwide consumption of HIS largely depends on production of carbonated soft drinks and diet food. Beverages take up the majority of world HIS supply, followed by food, tabletop sweeteners, personal care products (such as toothpaste and mouthwash), and pharmaceuticals.
In 2016, China was the country with the largest consumption of high intensity sweeteners (32% of total). North America ranked No.2 (12%), followed by Central/South America (11%) and Western Europe (9%).
The HIS sector progresses differently in different countries/regions. Demand for established HIS, such as cyclamate, saccharin, and aspartame, is flat or even declining in North America and Western Europe, however, consumption continues to increase in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. In contrast, consumption of some novel HIS like Acesulfame K, sucralose, and stevia extract is growing in all regions.
Sweetener consumption around the world
Cyclamate was the leading sweetener in terms of consumption volume, responsible for almost half of global HIS consumption in 2016. Developing regions, particularly Asia and Africa, are the major regions for Cyclamate consumption. In 2010, China consumed 29000 tons of Cyclamate, and this volume is predicted to rise to over 40000 tons by 2021. The use of cyclamate, the least expensive high-intensity sweetener, is expected to demonstrate above average growth in some developing regions from 2016-2021 as diet beverages and food are become more popular. However, cyclamate consumption is predicted to decrease in America and Canada as this sweetener is considered to have potential risk. (Cyclamate use in foods is prohibited in the United States, Japan, and South Korea.)
Aspartame takes up approximately 18% of the world consumption of HIS (sweetening uses only), and America is the major country for aspartame consumption, consuming 7110 tons in 2016. Actually, the market share of aspartame is shrinking in America due to the continued decline of soft drink consumption and consumer concerns about the sweetener’s safety. In contrast, aspartame consumption is expected to grow at above-average rates in Central and South America, China, other Asia and Oceania, Africa, and the Middle East.
Saccharin takes up approximately 18% of the world consumption of HIS (sweetening uses only). It is a traditional HIS that has a usage history of over one hundred years in food production. At present, China, Western Europe and America account for the majority of saccharin consumption. Due to potential safety risk associated with its consumption and the emergence of other replacements, its market share is predicted to decline in developed regions. However, saccharin consumption in China may demonstrate a slight increase by 2021.
Sucralose (Acesulfame K)
Sucralose is a novel systhetic HIS made from cane sugar. Due to its sucrose like taste profiles and high saccharinity, sucralose is regarded as a sugar replacement in food and beverage.
All regions are expected to see positive consumption growth during 2016 to 2021, with especially vigorous growth predicted in China and Western Europe. Sucralose accounts for approximately 9% of the world consumption of HIS (sweetening uses only).
The Americas and Asia accounted for the majority of consumption of stevia extract in 2016. As a natural HIS sourced from the stevia plant, stevia extract is increasingly popular in the food and beverage sector. It is predicted that the market share of stevia extract will increase at a higher rate than other HIS due to consumers’ preference for natural products.
Future trends in high intensity sweetener sector
Driven by the market demand for low-sugar product and consumers’ growing awareness of health, undoubtedly the market volume of HIS, especially natural ones, will increase rapidly in the coming years.
One HIS to watch over the coming years is stevia extract. It is the most popular natural HIS these days and is increasingly applied in food manufacture. Coca Cola announced that it would launch a new Coke product using stevioside as the sole sweetener in the first half year of 2018. 7UP is also beginning to use stevia extract, and the first batch of a new product is now being tested in India. “Nature Sweet”, a sweetener made from stevia and monk fruit extract, is also newly available in Starbucks further highlighting HIS industry trends towards natural sweeteners without demonstrated health risk.