A Transition Towards Artificial Sweeteners


From butyl acetate, dextrose to fructose, there is a wide range of sweeteners used in the food industry. In recent years, people from all around the globe have had higher education and increased awareness about their calorie intake and health.

A transition to artificial sweeteners from traditional sweeteners has been observed with increased awareness regarding artificial sweeteners. A few examples of artificial sweeteners are aspartame, saccharin and sucralose. These chemical products serve as non-nutritive or simply non-caloric sweeteners in a variety of food and beverages. It is also utilised as an artificial sweetener in beverages to cater to the needs of people requiring low-sugar or sugar-free diets.

There are two ways by which artificial sweeteners work:

  • They are synthesised to be approximately 100 times (or more) sweeter than a natural sweetener. As such, only a small amount of the artificial sweeteners is required to be added to food and beverage. Upon consumption, the calorie intake from such artificial sweetener upon consumption is negligible hence rendering it a non-caloric sweetener.
  • Another way artificial sweetener works is that it is indigestible by the human body. After consumption, it would not get digested as nutrients. Rather, it is secreted from the human body as waste.

The market outlook with regard to artificial sweeteners is anticipated to bloom. It was projected to be valued at 13.26 billion USD in 2015 and is set to increase to 16.53 billion USD by 2020 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.5%. In terms of volume, the market is predicted to reach 17.03 million tons by 2020, at a CAGR of 1% from 2015. The Asia-Pacific market is set to grow at a CAGR of 5.5%. The demand is expected to grow rapidly in less developed countries in view of their emerging economies, increased awareness and preference for healthier and low-caloric food and beverage products. Higher purchasing power in developing Asian regions is seeing a transition to artificial sweeteners.

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With regard to sucralose, tradename Splenda®, has achieved meteoric growth in market share since its approval in the United States in 1998. It has accounted for approximately 50% of volume for tabletop sweeteners. Sales in 2004 of $172 M exceeded the combined sales of its closest competitors Equal® (aspartame) and Sweet n Low® (saccharin). Over the years, China’s export volume for sucralose has expanded exponentially. Product quality and lowering of price has occurred to a large extent. Nonetheless, high demand from the overseas market has positively impacted the Chinese sucrose industry. In 2012, the export volume in China contributed over 82% of the sucralose output. Globally, sucralose is expected to be the fastest growing artificial sweetener.

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One can project a future where there is likely to be a decrease in the consumption of traditional sweeteners. Rather, a transition to artificial sweeteners is imminent with higher purchasing power, rising standard of living and better quality of life. People may have a greater preference for non-caloric sweetener.

Previously, sucralose, a non-caloric sweetener has been documented in many studies for more than 20-years. More than 100 studies about sucralose have been recorded with regard to its safety. Research has shown that sucralose is safe for consumption for everyone of all ages. However, recent studies have shown that sucralose may not be that harmless afterall.

The question now is whether we should accommodate a complete transition to artificial sweeteners in the near future. Recent studies have investigated the adverse effects of artificial sweeteners to our body. It was found that these non-caloric sweeteners reduces the number of good-gut bacteria, releases toxins and makes medications less effective to the human body. All these have negative implications on our health in the long run.

Perhaps, as of now, a complete transition to artificial sweeteners is not advisable until we can completely ensure that there are no harmful repercussions to our human body. Perhaps it is much safer to consume traditional sweeteners such as liquid glucose. Whatever the case, sugar products should be consumed in moderation.

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