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12/09/2014

A ‘Sweet’ Deal

In 2014, the U.S. retail market for zero-calorie sweeteners is expected to approach $685 million, states Packaged Facts, a division of Rockville, Md.-based MarketResearch.com, in its May “Sugar, Sugar Substitute and Sweetener Trends in the U.S.” report. The market research firm estimates that 45 percent of sales will come from sucralose, 29 percent from natural plant-derived stevia, 12 percent from saccharin, 9 percent from aspartame and 4 percent from monk fruit.

Since natural plant-derived stevia was introduced in 2009, sucralose, aspartame and saccharin have lost market share. The loss in market share likely is because artificial sweeteners have a bad reputation among consumers, even though numerous health organizations have come out in support of them, Packaged Facts states. The market research firm predicts that stevia will continue to make market share gains at the expense of artificial sweeteners.

Trends with traction

Americans are cutting down on sugar. With a growing number of research studies implicating sugar as a culprit for obesity, diabetes and heart disease, consumers are seeking ways to limit their consumption of added sugars, Packaged Facts states. This reality could mean that food and beverage products will need to be reformulated. Packaged Facts anticipates quite a bit of switching in the near future from sugar and high-fructose corn syrup to zero-calorie sweetener options for full or partial replacement.

Retailers that do switch to zero-calorie sweeteners could benefit from using packaging callouts, particularly “zero glycemic index.” This callout could effectively increase sales among the United States’ 29 million diabetic consumers and 86 million pre-diabetic consumers, states Benjamin Fleischer, CEO of Pyure Brands, Naples, Fla.

Consumers also remain concerned about sustainability and genetically modified foods, resulting in an increased value to certification-rich products, Fleischer says. Consumers, therefore, also have a growing interest in organic sweeteners. Certifications such as “organic” and “non-GMO Project Verified” could be used by retailers to attract consumer attention and tap into this trend.

Trends on the horizon

Innovative packaging, particularly for on-the-go use, will be important to consumers in the years to come, Packaged Facts states, as will flavored sweeteners — both sweet and savory. For example, The Splenda brand recently introduced flavored sweeteners in French Vanilla, Mocha and Hazelnut flavors meant specifically to target the coffee category, while another company recently introduced a sugar made with chili spice, which it claims works well in hot chocolate or on fruit.

And according to global market researcher Mintel in its October “Category Insight: Sweeteners and Sugar” report, blends of stevia and other natural sweeteners such as monk fruit have great potential for the future as well. One company, Sweet Solutions Co., already launched the EZ Sweetz stevia and monk fruit blend in the liquid sweetener category. Another company, Whole Earth Sweetener Co., launched a granule blend of raw cane sugar and stevia under its Pure Via brand.

With a growing number of research studies implicating sugar as a culprit for obesity, diabetes and heart disease, consumers are seeking ways to limit their consumption of added sugars.