Sweetness From Nature – Megatrend Versus Mainstream Business22 Oct 2013
“All natural” is a megatrend in the ingredient industry these days. Many new innovations are taking place throughout the whole ingredient value chain – from farming and manufacturing through to the product formulators and the FMCG marketers. The trend is being closely observed by both industry experts and consumers. More than half of all sweetener […]
“All natural” is a megatrend in the ingredient industry these days. Many new innovations are taking place throughout the whole ingredient value chain – from farming and manufacturing through to the product formulators and the FMCG marketers.
The trend is being closely observed by both industry experts and consumers. More than half of all sweetener discussions in the media, both in traditional and social networks, relate to stevia (58%), in contrast to aspartame (28%) or sucralose (14%). The high communication activity, especially in social networks and online forums, reveals that the natural sweetener concept is often not fully understood. When consumers’ perceptions were tested, Canadean Ingredients found that 79% of consumers knew that stevia is natural. However, 43% and 49% also believed that aspartame and sucralose were natural.
If an ingredient label lists “steviol glycosides from the stevia plant” or “sweetener: E960”, it can be expected to be interpreted differently by the average consumer. The situation is that many consumers do not interpret E numbers as a safety check, but instead interpret it to be that an ingredient with an E number is highly processed and risks being unsafe. Whether the interpretation is natural or synthetic, there is still a long way to go for a mainstream consumer product breakthrough.
Today, 2% of the global consumption volume of low calorie sweeteners in soft drinks is derived from stevia. In the North America and Europe market, 3.2% of non-caloric sweetener consumption is stevia-based. Although the consumption of global soft drinks with natural sweeteners in 2012 is small, it is constantly growing.
When calculating consumption based on the sweetness index, it is apparent that traditional sweeteners still have a significant impact within the soft drinks industry. One of the main reasons for this can be found in the more polarised consumption patterns of Western markets, which influence ingredient decisions for many new soft drink formulations. Consumers are less likely to consume sweetened carbonates (2010-2012 CAGR 2.04%) compared to bottled water (2010-2012 CAGR 6.39%), and they are even less likely to drink natural sweeteners that may be added to juices (2010-2012 CAGR minus 1.05%).
Today, many consumers are moving to drinks containing high sugar, such as energy drinks (2010-2012 CAGR 14.07%). This means they are embracing the less natural profile of these beverages, especially when they are offered as low-caloric versions, as they largely contain synthesised-intense sweeteners. Over the last three years, aspartame consumption in energy drinks grew nearly 20% in North America and 6.5% in Europe.
In 2012, sweetness consumption in energy drinks for all low caloric sweeteners was 325 MT (totalling a nutritional burden of zero calories) and non-caloric sugar types more than 1.1 million MT (totalling a nutritional burden of consuming 4.4 mio kcal). One might ask if this could become a new hot topic on the agenda for nutritional watch dogs.
Each consumer is different in terms of his or her idea of a perfect healthy lifestyle; it can be quite complex, as there are many different views of what is right and wrong/healthy or unhealthy for them. Today, health-conscious consumers may be seen drinking carbonates with normal sugar on a perfectly balanced and rational basis, and then there are other consumers who seem to be living a healthy lifestyle but indulge in high carb energy drinks or other performance beverages. Consumers may be drinking fruit-based carbohydrates, believing this is the healthier choice because of the lack of processed ingredients.
This contradiction between processed ingredients, nutrition and health may be due to groups of consumers’ mistrust in the industry. The main reason for the natural megatrend could well be that less-processed products are considered healthier amongst urbanised Western consumers, who have a romantic dream of foraging for their own food in the wild and growing their own vegetables. Many consumers expect the modern supermarket to be offering choices of healthy, natural products with origin declarations.
When comparing consumers’ attitudes in 2012 versus 2013, we saw there was no change in consumers’ perception of what is the healthiest choice in terms of sweetening agents, as the majority (47% in 2012 and 48% in 2013) still think that honey is the healthiest. However, the number of consumers believing sucralose is the healthiest sweetener has decreased from 16% in 2012 to only 4% in 2013, meanwhile the perception of stevia as the healthiest choice of sweetener has changed in a positive direction – from 9% in 2012 to 14% in 2013.
So the natural trend is booming – but as a mainstream business for the industry, it is still somewhat out in the future in terms of revenues. Consumers take information on board, but slower than industry has anticipated (or predicted).
Stevia outpaces aspartame in new product launches
27 Nov 2018
The number of new stevia-sweetened foods and drinks overtook new products with aspartame in 2017, according to global data from Innova Market Insights.Read more
Nuts gain from awareness of healthy fats
19 Nov 2018
Demand for products containing nuts is on the rise, aided by ongoing research into their health benefits and growing consumer understanding of healthy fats.Read more
Cranberries show promise for improved gut health
19 Nov 2018
Researchers are just beginning to understand the link between the gut and many chronic health conditions, leading to growing interest in prebiotic ingredients. According to a new study, cranberries are the latest food to show prebiotic potential.Read more
Egg substitutes driven by vegan, allergen-free demand
13 Nov 2018
Egg replacers have long been used as a way to avoid to the price fluctuations often associated with real eggs, but recently interest has been driven by manufacturer demand for clean label and plant-based ingredients, allowing companies to make more veg...Read more
Whey protein on the rise across food categories
13 Nov 2018
Whey protein remains the most popular protein ingredient for athletes by far, but numerous whey protein ingredients have emerged over the past few years, in applications that take it well beyond sports nutrition.Read more
Could regulation tempt the industry to renew focus on low fat foods?
7 Nov 2018
The UK government aims to cut calories by 20% by 2024 in a range of popular foods, potentially shifting focus back onto foods’ fat content as companies strive to reach this target.Read more
Allergen-free foods gain momentum
5 Nov 2018
Launches of allergen-free foods have increased in recent years – and not just because of increased prevalence of food allergy.Read more
Enzyme technology slashes sugar in fruit juice
2 Nov 2018
Israeli researchers have developed a new technology to cut sugar by up to 80% in fruit juice, by using enzymes that boost the fibre content at the same time.Read more
What can blockchain do for the food industry?
1 Nov 2018
International food companies have started to embrace blockchain technology to help trace food and ingredients all along the supply chain. What are the potential benefits for the industry?Read more
The mainstreaming of meat alternatives
26 Oct 2018
Tofu and lentils still have their place in a vegetarian diet, but a new generation of meat alternatives makes it easier than ever for consumers to switch to plant-based options – even the most enthusiastic meat eaters.Read more
Are you a supplier
Here's what we can do for you
- Generate quality leads for your business
- Stay visible for 365 days of the year
- Receive product inquiries and respond to meeting requests directly
- Improve company online presence through Search Engine Optimisation