Published June 2014
The main high-intensity sweeteners discussed in this report are acesulfame K, aspartame, cyclamate, glycyrrhizin, saccharin, stevia extract (steviol glycosides, including rebaudioside A or stevioside) and sucralose.
China is the world’s largest source of high-intensity sweeteners, accounting for more than 70% of global production in 2013. Indonesia was a distant second, followed by the United States and Western Europe. The buildup of high-intensity sweetener capacity in China in recent years has increased global supplies and contributed to declining prices for many of these products.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of high-intensity sweeteners for sweetening applications:
Worldwide consumption of high-intensity sweeteners is largely dependent on production of diet carbonated soft drinks and food. Beverages make up the majority of world high-intensity sweetener consumption, followed by food, tabletop sweeteners, personal care products (such as toothpaste) and pharmaceuticals.
The following table shows the relative sweetness of various high-intensity sweeteners relative to sucrose (table sugar), which is the “gold standard” of sweetness (sugar or sucrose = 1):
|Monk fruit extract||150|
Cyclamate was the leading sweetener in terms of consumption volume, accounting for 51% of global high-intensity sweetener consumption in 2013. Because cyclamate is only 30 times as sweet as sucrose, however, it was responsible for just 11% of sucrose equivalents. Saccharin, which is 300 times as sweet as sucrose, was the leading sweetener in terms of sucrose equivalents, despite being second with respect to consumption volume. Saccharin accounted for 42% of total sucrose equivalents in 2013.
Saccharin and cyclamate are the lowest-cost high-intensity sweeteners available, and therefore enjoy wide use in nearly all markets, especially developing regions such as Asia, Africa, and Central and South America. The notable exceptions for cyclamate are the United States, Japan and the Republic of Korea, where its consumption is banned.
Asia, Africa, and Central and South America accounted for the bulk of cyclamate consumption. As diet beverages and food become more popular for health reasons, cyclamate¾the least expensive high-intensity sweetener¾has replaced sucrose or table sugar in these regions. In comparison, North America was the largest consumer of three relatively expensive high-intensity sweeteners: acesulfame K, aspartame and sucralose.
Asia was the largest consumer of stevia extract, which is derived from the leaves of the stevia shrub. Japan, China and other Asian countries have long used stevia extracts as sweeteners. North American and Western European markets for this sweetener are comparatively developmental. Consumption of stevia extract over the next five years is expected to increase at a higher rate than other high-intensity sweeteners, as preferences for natural sweeteners increase. However, because stevia extract is a natural product, the specific composition of the extract (that is, the ratio of various steviol glycosides) depends on the specific stevia cultivar, the weather, processing and other factors. Consistent composition may be the key to future demand growth for this sweetener. Currently, product specifications (especially for rebaudioside A concentration) differ from one region of the world to another.
The outlook for high-intensity sweetener consumption during 2013–2018 varies by region and by sweetener. Various factors will continue to influence high-intensity sweetener demand in world markets. The potential for growth in demand for these sweeteners is highest in Asia, Central and South America, Africa, and the Middle East, where concerns about health and nutrition are relatively nascent and diet products have less market penetration. Consumption of high-intensity sweeteners in the United States, Canada, Western Europe and Japan is expected to grow at lower rates, as the diet beverage market, the largest application, has matured.