Artificial Sweetener Manufacturers Move to ‘Natural Ingredients’ as Consumer Demand ‘Healthier, Cleaner’ Options

Food products that comprise natural or artificial sweeteners, to substitute sugar have grown in popularity in recent times, largely attributed to their comparative sweet taste, while simultaneously being calorie-free. On the other hand, with a significant increase the consumption of sweeteners, manufacturers are increasingly conducting research on the potential positive and negative effects that sweeteners can have on the average consumer. The primary goal of such activity is to confirm the co-relation between the development of healthy sweeteners, and their popularity among consumers, on the basis of the resultant flavor.

Within the sweetener market, the number of major buyers or sellers is largely limited. As a result, manufacturers are emphasizing on cost-effective production processes to boost productivity and expand on market share. Moreover, manufacturing low-calorie and non-sugar sweeteners comprises of a fixed process for extraction, most of which are patented by manufacturers operating in the global sweetener market. This practices are supported by stringent regulations by government bodies such as the FDA that aim to circumvent health issues.

Rising monetary investments by artificial sweetener manufacturers in addition to the increasing trend of geographical expansion has resulted in a market atmosphere that is highly competitive on a global scale. Furthermore, the growing brand awareness of products among consumers, and knowledge about health-specific issues including obesity, and nutrition, are key factors that are anticipated to propel the demand for artificial sweeteners and stevia sweeteners in the years to come.

Artificial Sweeteners Find Applications in Production of Non-Natural Beverages

Synthetic sweeteners such as sucralose or Ace-K are continually preferred for the production of soft drinks. On the other hand, aspartame is increasingly being substituted by steviosides owing to improved opportunity for flavor formulations and enhancements. This is particularly true of soft drinks including hydrating sports drinks, ice teas, functional drinks, or fruit flavored drink mix powders.

Soft drink manufacturers are increasingly facing demands from consumers for products that contain reduced amount of sugar. This has become a key area of focus for food and beverage producers, but not necessarily to be substituted with zero-calorie replacements.

With the rising diversification and introduction of new natural and artificial sweeteners, food and beverage brands have been pushed into acquiring expertise on product formulation while maintaining competitive price points through the use of data on the characteristics of various sweetener options.

The artificial sweetener production sector is strongly pushing towards the consolidation of the worldwide market, in addition to building diversity among investments into the field of zero-calorie sweeteners. Owing to the highly volatile and constantly changing market of such sweeteners, the manufacturers put high importance on the process of filing patents, which is widely considered to be important for effective long term investment safeguards.

Carbonated soda products are observed to be the primary end-user of non-calorie sweeteners, followed distantly by ice teas, powdered drinks, and various sports drinks. Regulation compliance, and cost of raw materials are for such artificial sweeteners is largely dependent on geographical location.

Stevia Gains Importance Owing to Relatively Higher Health Benefits

The worldwide stevia market is anticipated to grow rapidly in the near future owing to a number of growth influencers, such as higher awareness in consumers about low-calorie food and beverage products, rising visibility in the retail space, and favorable initiatives by governments across the world, among others.

Out of the wide variety of sweeteners available in the global market, stevia is witnessing a relatively higher rate of adoption, primarily due to its low calorie content. Moreover stevia is available to users in numerous forms including extracts, fresh leaves, dried leaves, or liquid concentrates. Moreover, the ingredient provides consumers with a number of health benefits such as its safe usage by diabetics, and its properties of lowering blood pressure, while being available easily in retail markets at affordable prices.

On the other hand, stevia has some cons as well. For example, it is not completely safe for use by pregnant women. Moreover, stevia may also display a few side effects including irregular digestion, allergic reactions, high toxicity of the kidney, and adverse reactions to prescription drugs, among others.

Moreover, stevia product manufacturers also face the additional challenges, of slow growth rates of stevia plants, intense competition by other sweeteners variants, and usage in selective products. New products are being marketed on health benefits such as antioxidant ingredients, which is generating a greater demand for organic stevia.

For example, Tate & Lyle released its range of Sweet Green Fields’ steviol sweetener to consumers. The product comprises steviol glycosides that are certified to be produced using organically grown stevia plants, and non-GMO agricultural procedures.

Health Issues and Research Discrepancies Restrict Consumption of Artificial Sweeteners

In studies by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, synthetic sweeteners are found to adversely affect appetite while raising the risk of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and dental cavities, in addition to weight gain and obesity, although these observations were not claimed to have been tested conclusively.

More research is also being conducted on the different adverse health effects such as depression, headaches, cognitive defects, higher probability of preterm delivery, neurological irregularities, or cardiovascular and kidney disease, and hypertension, each of which have displayed inconsistent results.

As a result, the stevia market and the artificial sweetener market can find new opportunities with future research efforts to find evidence on the basis of the various anecdotal incidences of side effects, through systematic review systems, for the accurate evaluation of results associated to sweeteners.

Sweetener Blends are Trending to Combine the Benefits of Complementary Ingredients

In the past few years, manufacturers have been increasingly blending natural sweeteners to existing formulations instead of completely substituting artificial sweeteners. Such products are usually marketed to substitute up to 30% of regular sugar in a product, without diminishing on flavor.

Moreover, such products need not lose out on their ‘free from synthetic sweeteners’ label, owing to their natural product categorization and relatively small amount of artificial ingredients. Stevia is one of the top natural sweetener variants in the terms of consumption, and is anticipated to overtake aspartame, sucralose, cyclamate, and saccharin in the years to come.

In artificial sweeteners Neotame is an ultra-high intensity variant that is displaying rapid increase. Here, Amax NutraSource’s Perfecta, and Tate & Lyle’s Purefruit products have reached the mainstream market which is competing with stevia products by using monk fruit instead.

Similarly, Minneapolis based Cargill has mixed honey with stevia in its range of Nectar Blend products, which are marketed as comparable replacement for granulated sugar, pure honey, corn sweetener or agave. The product allows food manufacturers to sweeten products by reducing the amount of honey, thereby reducing costs by a significant margin.

Moreover, Sola is a Swiss manufactured sweetener blend that makes use of tagatose, erythritol, monk fruit extract, maltitol, stevia leaf extract, xanthan gum, and other natural flavors in its formulation. As per the Calorie Control Council, erythritol, is found in natural foods such as fruits and mushrooms, and to a lower range in soy sauce, wine, and cheese, and is used extensively in the food and beverage sector. Maltitol and tagatose are also sweetener ingredients that are derived from the hydration of maltose, which is obtained from starch, or dairy products.

Need more insights on the stevia or artificial sweetener industry? For reliable and actionable forecast information on the basis of region and segment, visit Future Market Insights’ report on the global artificial sweeteners and stevia markets. These write ups also talk about crucial factors including market environment, top market share holders, sector structure, and competitive strategies.