US demand for alternative sweeteners is forecast to advance 3.3 percent annually through 2015 to $1.4 billion. Gains will be led by continuing market penetration of relatively new entrants to the industry, including the stevia extract rebiana-A (reb-A). More mature segments of the market, including high intensity sweeteners (such as sucralose) and polyols (such as sorbitol) will see more restrained, though still healthy, increases in demand. Market trends favoring less processed ingredients will drive well publicized usage of sweeteners that can be marketed as " natural." However, further consumer preference for reduced-calorie foods and beverages will ensure the ongoing use of ubiquitous sweeteners such as aspartame.
High intensity sweeteners, despite the drag of a declining soft drink market, will remain the largest product category among alternative sweeteners. This leadership position is rooted in their continuing domination of the large diet soft drink and tabletop sweetener markets. Aspartame will remain the leader in diet soft drinks, while the tabletop market will continue to be dominated by sucralose. Growth in other markets will be healthy, although high intensity sweeteners are used in much lower quantities outside of their two mainstay applications.
Though expected to remain a fairly small share of the overall market, newer alternative sweeteners will register by far the fastest growth and generate the most interest among food and beverage processors, as well as among consumers. The 2008 FDA approval of reb-A led to high-profile introductions of stevia-based products, such as tabletop sweeteners, juice beverages, fruit drinks, flavored waters and soft drinks, many of which have met with strong consumer favor. In 2010, the FDA approved luo han guo (monk fruit) for use in the US; while this product's potential remains to be seen, its natural profile is on trend with current consumer purchasing decisions. Furthermore, full-calorie agave nectar is gaining traction due to its positioning as a natural alternative to highly processed high fructose corn syrup.
Polyols, a mainstay of the alternative sweetener market, will register solid growth in demand. Xylitol will see gains above the segment average as it expands its presence in such applications as chewing gum, where it benefits from a unique profile in adding sweetness, enhancing minty flavors and actually improving dental health.
While demand in diet soft drinks, the largest single outlet for alternative sweeteners, will decline, other applications will offer solid opportunities for growth as food processors and consumers seek healthier food options with fewer calories and less high fructose corn syrup. This trend will lead to above average gains for acesulfame potassium (ace-K) and sucralose, as well as for low-calorie polyols such as erythritol and xylitol, and newer options such as reb-A. By 2015, tabletop sweeteners will overtake candy and confection applications as the largest segment of the food market for alternative sweeteners. Sucralose-based sweeteners will maintain dominance, though inroads will be made by newer products with a natural profile. Other markets, including personal care products and pharmaceuticals, will remain fairly small.
This new Freedonia industry study, Alternative Sweeteners, presents historical demand data (2000, 2005, 2010) and forecasts for 2015 and 2020 by product and market. The study also considers market environment factors, evaluates company market share and profiles 26 industry players.
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