Sweeteners Offer Healthier, Low-Calorie Alternative

Millions of times a day, consumers throughout the world perform the same exercise around ordering that morning cup of coffee:  They reach into the sweeteners caddie to pick through the different colored packets and select their sweetener of choice.

“Sugar and cream” with coffee has turned into a full slate of options:  Not only are there different sweeteners, but the cream choices have mutated into a refrigerator full of milks and creamers (but that’s another story).

The sweetener world is more finite: Yellow – Sucralose, Pink – Saccharine, Blue – Aspartame, Green – Stevia and Brown – Cane Sugar.  The growing popularity of coffee and tea is fueling a worldwide spurt in the demand for sweeteners.

The market for sweeteners, which reached $84 billion in 2014, is expected to soar to $111 billion by 2020 according to Research and Markets Co.  The highest demand for sweeteners is in North America, which accounts for more than 60 percent; Europe and Asia are the next fastest growing regions. China is the largest producer of sweeteners, accounting for more than 70 percent of world’s total in 2013.

The biggest reason for the increased demand is the growing worldwide appetite for low-calorie diets.  There’s global recognition that sugary foods and beverages are closely tied to diabetes and heart disease, not to mention obesity. Zero-calorie sweeteners are just another way to reduce calorie intake and avoid sugar, especially the much maligned high-fructose corn syrup which appears on many food labels.

The Western diet craze has spread globally as middle class consumers from countries such as China, India and Brazil have changed eating.  As they’re becoming more health conscious, sugar intake is dropping in favor of zero-calorie sweeteners for refined sugar at an increasing rate.  Another advantage of sweeteners is they are many times sweeter than refined sugar.  So they not only taste better but have the benefit of not causing cavities in teeth, which is the reason sugar-free gum outsells regular gum.

The increased popularity in “natural” sweeteners, such as stevia and monk fruit, has also propelled overall growth.  Stevia is made from the leaves of the stevia shrub, which thrives in South America.  Monk fruit, which is from China, is related to watermelons and pumpkins.

All in all, the food and beverage industry has been replacing sugar and corn syrup with other sweeteners.  Zero-calorie sweeteners have proven to be a valid substitute as more people seek low-calorie diets via sugar-free products.  Combined with the growing awareness about healthy lifestyles, the demand for these sugar substitutes seems endless.

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