Globally, sugar consumption contracted slightly between 2017-2020, due to a number of reasons, one of which is the continuing war on sugar and the associated imposition of sugar taxes, while another is thought to be the growing choice of alternative sweeteners, particularly those sourced from natural feedstocks. These allow food and beverage manufacturers to claim their product as a ‘healthy’ life-style choice whilst achieving significant sugar reduction. This study provides an update to the ISO’s paper on alternative sweeteners (sugar substitutes) released in 2017. Attention is first directed towards developments and prospects for the key caloric alternatives to sugar. High fructose syrup (HFS) – known as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in the leading producer, the US – dominates this category. In the second part attention is turned to high intensity sweeteners (HIS) including the well-established legacy sweeteners – Saccharin, Cyclamate, Aspartame and Acesulfame-K, as well as second generation artificial sweeteners such as Sucralose, Neotame and Advantame. Whilst legacy sweeteners still dominate the HIS market, growth is predominantly in “natural HIS” (derived from sources such as leaves, berries and fruits) including Stevia sweeteners, Luo Han Guo (monk fruit) and sweet proteins (such as Brazzein and Thaumatin). Finally, low intensity sweeteners (LIS), particularly Erythritol, and rare sugars – especially Allulose, are also considered, where new biotech platforms are allowing commercialisation at scale.
Whilst providers of alternative sweeteners extol the ability of their offerings (often combined with fibre and other bulking agents) to fully substitute for sugar in “great tasting” products, there is no empirical evidence at a global level, as yet, that alternative sweeteners are diminishing sugar’s share of the global sweeteners market. That said, at a country level there have been losses; the total substitution of sugar by HFCS in US carbonated soft drinks being the most obvious example. Even so, consumer preferences are evidently changing, and product innovation centred on natural sweeteners will likely increase. Sugar’s market share potentially could slowly erode over the coming years, marking a key structural change.
Introduction Background Overview: World Sweeteners Market A: Alternative Caloric Sweeteners High Fructose Syrup (HFS) Global Overview and Drivers North America Europe Asia B: High Intensity Sweeteners The Structure of HIS Demand The Special Role of China (1) Synthetic HIS Saccharin Aspartame Cyclamate Acesulfame-K Sucralose Next Generation Aspartame Sweeteners (2) Natural HIS Stevia Overcapacity and Low Prices New Stevia Sweetener Production Technologies (i) New Cultivars (ii) Enzymatically Modified Leaf Extracts (iii) Fermentation Stevia Sustainability a New Focal Point Luo Han Guo (Monk fruit) (3) Sweet Proteins Thaumatin Brazzein C: Low Calorie - Low Intensity Sweeteners Sugar Alcohols (Polyalcohols) Erythritol Low Calorie Rare Sugars Allulose (D-Psicose) Conclusions