Stevia is quietly gaining traction with consumers, and alongside that, usurping the traditional pecking order of more established sweeteners. A new report from Mintel and Leatherhead Food Research highlights the opportunity for such plant-based sweeteners. Indeed, while the value of stevia as an additive for use in food and beverage manufacture totalled $110 million in 2013, Mintel and Leatherhead Food Research forecasts growth of $275 million by 2017.
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 contrast 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.
“Much of the growth in the global sweeteners market is set to be driven by growing consumer concerns over sugar intake, whilst the development of more plant-derived sweeteners is also anticipated to benefit the market. The gradual demise of sugar yet desire for sweetened food and drink products, suggests good opportunities for intense sweeteners. Intense sweeteners offer a source of sweetness without the calorie contribution of sugar, an increasingly attractive proposition to consumers struggling to manage their weight. Signs that the global market for intense sweeteners has reacted to this increased demand for ‘healthier’ sweetener solutions is already evident,” according to Laura Jones, food science analyst at Mintel.
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 US$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 US$1.4 billion, up by 9.7% from levels in 2013.
“Plant-derived sweeteners, such as stevia, are expected to provide the main impetus for growth in the sweetener market in the coming years. As manufacturers work to create the right taste profile for stevia and for other plant- derived sweeteners, such as monk fruit, to obtain regulatory clearance, the artificial sweetener market still offers growth opportunities, in particular the sucralose and acesulfame‑K markets,” according to Emma Gubisch, strategic insight manager at Leatherhead Food Research.
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, and this growth looks set to continue. Meanwhile, the global market for all sweeteners (intense and bulk) as additives in food manufacture – rather than sold to consumers at the retail level – was 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 by 3.8% from $1.94 billion in 2010.[Source: "Intense Sweeteners." Research conducted by Mintel and Leatherhead Food Research. 14 Jan. 2014. Web. 15 Jan. 2014.]