Market research suggests natural sweetener demand rising

Four in 10 consumers in Innova’s Health and Nutrition Survey in 2020 claimed to have decreased their sugar consumption over a 12-month period

Innova Market Insights’ latest Ingredient Insider report analyses trends in sugar reduction and the use of sweeteners in food and beverages. The report includes market and consumer research, product development activity and the use of sugar-related claims in food and beverages.

Efforts to reduce sugar levels are ongoing, reflecting the causative link between high sugar consumption and conditions including weight gain, diabetes and hyperactivity in children. Government intervention has become more widespread globally, including the use of sugar taxes and the regulation of advertising towards children.

Four in 10 consumers in the research firm’s Health and Nutrition Survey in 2020 claimed to have decreased their sugar consumption over a 12-month period. The prevention of health conditions was the leading reason given for this reduction, ahead of weight management and dental health.

“In recent years ingredient innovations have enabled manufacturers to better replicate the multiple sensory and functional properties of sugar, including sweetness, mouthfeel, bulk, browning and moisture retention, while lowering the amounts of sugar and calories,” said Lu Ann Williams, Global Insights Director at Innova Market Insights.

Sweeteners currently include non-nutritive, bulk, reduced-calorie sugars and rare sugars, but research is likely to discover forms of sugar that can be marketed as natural and offer both formulation and metabolic benefits, Innova says, while targeting the taste expectations of consumers.

As well as NPD activity in sweet ingredients, the demand for natural sweeteners like stevia, monk fruit and erythritol is rising in response to consumer demand for clean products and a clean label. These are starting to displace other sweeteners considered to be artificial, reflecting Innova Market Insights’ Top Trend for 2021, transparency.

Manufacturers are continuing to develop steviol rebaudioside glycosides with sweetness profiles that better match the taste of sugar, while modernised production methods are reducing environmental impact. Blends of ingredients used to replicate the sensory and functional properties of sugar include plant-derived sweet-tasting fibres such as chicory root fibre.

Ingredients can also be chosen and tailored to match the dietary requirements of consumers, including plant based, vegan and gluten free. They are also likely to offer benefits beyond sweetness, such as better-tolerated fibers and protein fortification.

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