CHICAGOThe value of plant-based sweetener stevia, as an additive for use in food and beverage manufacture, totaled $110 million in 2013, and is expected to reach $275 million by 2017, according to new market research from Mintel and Leatherhead Food Research.
In contrast, aspartame, despite its recent ruling as safe for human consumption at current levels from the EFSA, is forecast to drop to £210 million by 2017 from its value of £280 million in 2013, as stevia, and blends of stevia and other sweeteners such as acesulfame K, begin to take a greater share of the market.
In 2009, only 5% of food and drink products launched using intense sweeteners used solely plant-derived sweeteners (although a further 2% used a blend of artificial and plant-derived sweeteners). In 2013, the share of plant-derived sweeteners jumped to 15% (with a further 3% used a blend of artificial and plant-derived sweeteners). Between 2011 and 2013, plant-derived sweeteners reached a high of 28% of launches in North America.
In a recent report, Zenith International predicts stevia sales will reach $409 million market value by 2016.
Intense sweeteners offer a source of sweetness without the calorie contribution of sugar, an increasingly attractive proposition to consumers struggling to manage their weight," said Laura Jones, food science analyst at Mintel. "Signs that the global market for intense sweeteners has reacted to this increased demand for healthier sweetener solutions is already evident."
By the end of 2013, the global market for intense sweeteners as additives used in the manufacture of food and beverage products is forecast to reach a value of $1.27 billion, a figure which represents an increase of 2.8% compared with 2012. By 2017, global market value is expected to increase to almost $1.4 billion, up by 9.7% from levels in 2013.
However, breaking down the usage of intense sweeteners in new product launches shows that today, artificial variants, such as acesulfame K, sucralose and aspartame are still dominant.
Due to its use in blends, acesulfame K leads in launch activity, however, the share of products using acesulfame K has gradually declined from 56% in 2009 to 49% of launches in 2013. Sucralose takes the second spot, found in around 40% of all products launched with an intense sweetener. Aspartame comes in next; however, its share is consistently dropping year on year, going from being used in 40% of 2009 launches to 32% of 2013 launches. Categories still heavily reliant on artificial variants include sugar confectionery, desserts and ice cream, dairy products and carbonated soft drinks.
The sucralose sector is now the largest sector within the global intense sweeteners market in value terms (34%), having overtaken aspartame in recent years and showing more potential for growth in some regions given its positioning as the most sugar-like of the artificial sweeteners .
The use of intense sweeteners in launches of food and drink products has grown over the past five years, from being used in 3.5% of all launches globally in 2009 to 5.5% in 2012. Meanwhile, the global market for all sweeteners (intense and bulk) as additivesrather than sold to consumers at the retail levelwas worth more than $2 billion in 2012. Value sales have started to pick up again as the worldwide economic situation has improved, with the global market up 3.8% from $1.94 billion in 2010.