Alternative Sweeteners on the Rise

Led by greater market penetration and use of the stevia extract rebiana-A (reb-A), U.S. demand for alternative sweeteners will rise by 3.3 percent annually through 2015, according to a new report by market research firm Freedonia. The report indicates that the alternative sweetener market will reach $1.4 billion in sales within three years and that despite a sluggish diet soft drink market, high intensity sweeteners, including aspartame and sucralose, will remain the largest selling products within the category.

The report states that consumer trends toward consumption of less processed ingredients will drive the growth of sweeteners that can be marketed as “natural.” And though Freedonia expects new and natural alternative sweeteners to comprise a relatively small share of the market, the products will achieve the fastest growth and generate the most interest among beverage manufacturers and consumers, according to the report.

In addition to reb-A, the report notes that while the growth potential of luo han guo (monk fruit),  a sweetener approved by the FDA in 2010, remains to be seen, the product’s natural profile is on trend with current consumers purchasing decisions. Along the same lines, agave nectar – despite being a higher-calorie ingredient – is gaining greater acceptance as a natural alternative to high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

Nevertheless, the report states that aspartame, the ubiquitous artificial sweetener used in a number of diet beverages, will maintain healthy – albeit somewhat restrained – demand as consumers continue to seek out lower calorie foods and beverages. Additionally, the report forecasts greater gains for other artificial low-calorie sweeteners including acesulfame potassium (ace-K) and sucralose, as well as low-calorie polyols including erythritol and xylitol.