Negative attitude towards sugar changes consumer choices, research

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 26th November 2014
Negative attitude towards sugar changes consumer choices, research
Negative attitude towards sugar changes consumer choices, research

The backlash against sugar has changed consumer attitudes is effecting global markets, according to a new report from global market research organisation Euromonitor International.

The report identifies 34 global markets, all of which saw a five-year rise in obesity including the US, where the number of obese adults rose from 34 per cent in 2008 to 41 per cent in 2013. In addition, 27 markets globally saw an increase in diabetes.

Changing trends as consumers reduce sugar intake

Euromonitor found the negative attitude towards sugar was driving changes in trends, with consumers making a conscious effort to either reduce their sweet food and drink intake, or eschew sugar completely.

Euromonitor’s Global Consumer Trends Survey revealed that 42 per cent of consumers seek out food labels with limited or no added sugar.

“Sugar is now seen as a health risk by most, and as toxic as tobacco by some,” said Gina Westbrook, Director of Strategy Briefings at Euromonitor International.

“Sugar has endured a tide of negative public opinion as the amount of scientific research linking the rise in sugar intake with obesity has increased, leading the government to become increasingly concerned about the rising cost of illnesses such as diabetes and cancer,” Ms Westbrook said.

WHO’s recommendations forcing manufacturers to change sweeteners

The World Health Organisation recently said that cutting the recommended daily sugar limit in half to 5 per cent would have ‘additional benefits’ and consequently, manufacturers are being forced to reduce sugar content and develop natural alternatives to artificial sweeteners.

“In February, Mexico introduced a ground breaking tax on sugar-sweetened beverages,” Ms Westbrook said. “Companies will continue to work with ingredients suppliers to develop new alternatives, with natural sweeteners like stevia holding the greatest growth potential,” she said.

Rise in ‘natural’ sweeteners

In October 2014, Australian Food News reported that the market for ‘natural’ sweeteners was continuing to grow, with stevia proving particularly popular.

Canadean found that as a result of increased focus on sugar calories, the consumer demand for non-caloric sweeteners is projected to grow 5 per cent a year until 2017. Of the 360 new products picked up in 2013, 38.3 per cent contained non-caloric sweeteners.

In 2013 the soft drinks industry consumed only close to 700 tons of Stevia ingredients, versus 12,300 tons of Aspartame, or 8,700 tons of Acesulfame K. The largest natural sweetener on the market is Stevia, but Canadean also found great potential in other herbal-sweeteners such as monk fruit.

Products launched with stevia as sweetener

Australian Food News has reported on several products released or announced recently that use stevia as a sweetener. In November 2014, Coca-Cola announced it would launched its Coca-Cola Life product, which uses a combination of sugar and stevia, in Australia in 2015. Australian Food News reported in October 2014 that spreads brand IXL had launched a stevia-sweetened range of jams in Australia.