As scientists warn the western world about the health implications of eating too much sugar, food manufacturers and food/beverage processors are reconsidering the additives they use in their products and what alterations need to be made to meet consumer demand for something sweet that is low in calories, or is non-carbohydrate.
An upcoming report from market analysts Business Communications predicts that the US market for sugars and sweeteners - valued at €8.4 billion ($9.3bn) in 2002 - will increase at an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 2.3 per cent and is forecast to reach $10.4 billion by 2007.
According to BCC, the world production of sugar continues to rise. In 2002 it reached 135.1 million tons, up from 2.7 per cent from the previous year and is estimated to reach 145.1 million tons by 2007. At this rate, we could see over 150 million tons of sugar before the next decade. The total value of world sugar production increased 3.6 per cent from 2001, to $37.3 billion. Next year alone the value is predicted to rise to 5.5 per cent, with additional steady growth of 1.5 per cent AAGR until 2007.
Sugar consumption is also steadily on the rise, though it has shifted from table-top use to incorporation in processed foods and beverages. Total global sugar consumption amounted to 27 million tons in 2002, accounting for only about 23.7 per cent of production. Consumption is expected to grow at an estimated AAGR of 1.7 per cent for the next five years.
In contrast, US sugar consumption was up from last year's total of 9.9 million tons, to 10.2 million in 2002, or 117.6 per cent of the total sugar produced in the US. Clearly, the US relies much on its imports from other major sugar-producing countries, and its own surplus supplies.
The worldwide total value of the sweetener market in 2002 was estimated at $10.92 billion. Making up the bulk of that total was corn sweetener, estimated at approximately $9.7 billion. According to the report, although sugar alcohols and HIS are still relatively new and unexplored sweeteners, their presence in the market is growing rapidly. Total global sugar alcohol production was estimated at 836,905 tons, up 2.2 per cent over last year. World HIS production was estimated at 26,051 tons, with the US making nearly 69 per cent of that total, or 18,019 tons in 2002.
US consumption of sugar alcohols was estimated at 376,640 tons, nearly 79 per cent of the total production of these sweeteners. The estimated consumption of HIS in the US was 13,985 tons, or over 77 per cent of the total produced. In the next five years consumption of sugar alcohols and HIS is slated to rise as much as 15 per cent as new sweeteners make their debut, and improvements come about in those already in wide use.
Sorbitol made up the largest percentage of sugar alcohols, with more than 54 per cent of the total production in this market, but newcomer tagatose is waiting in the wings with a fast growth rate estimated at more than 20-25 per cent within five years. Other sugar alcohols including erythritol, maltitol and xylitol have also increased their share of this market.
Aspartame still holds much of the HIS production in the US, making up almost half of the total production and consumption. But it will soon see strong competition as new HIS neotame, approved by the FDA in June of 2002, begins production in 2003. Sucralose and Ace-K continue to compete for the remaining HIS market as long-time sweetener saccharin continues to decline, continues BCC.
In addition to the rising cost of sugar, a number of health concerns, in particular relating to weight gain, obesity and diabetes, have all contributed to the rise of the sweetener and sugar-free sweetener industries. The BCC report confirms that with over 163,000,000 Americans considered overweight, 16 million suffering from diabetes and many millions more interested in curtailing sugar as a way to better health, a ready and captive market for low sugar sweeteners and HIS has developed.