The market research organisation says it expects the naturally sweetened drinks market to continue to grow over the coming years, especially in Europe, North America and Japan. However, it points out that the soft drinks industry used just 700 tons of stevia ingredients last year (the top-selling natural sweetener on the market) compared to 12,300 tons of aspartame and 8,700 tons of acesulfame K.
“Natural sweeteners are still in their exploratory phase, and many product manufacturers are still struggling to find the right balance of steviol glycoside in their drinks,” Canadean said. “Although new technologies are being made to constantly improve these products, taste continues to be the main obstacle for the natural sweet.”
Full-calorie sweeteners, such as sugar and isoglucose (high fructose corn syrup), still represent 80% of the overall sweeteners market, but consumer demand for non-caloric sweeteners is growing. The organisation projects demand to grow 5% a year for the next three years. Its figures show that 38.3% of new products launched in 2013 contained non-caloric sweeteners.
When it comes to zero-calorie sweeteners, despite the market dominance of sweeteners like sucralose, aspartame and ace-K, natural zero-calorie sweeteners may have a taste profile that works better in certain applications.
Ingredient analyst at Canadean Karin Nielsen said: “Stevia may be more suited for certain products such as teas, nectars, and juices, as it has an ability to enhance the taste of the natural ingredients.”