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Added sugars – in particular fructose - in processed food and drinks play a key part in the growing problems of obesity, diabetes and tooth decay. Consumer demand is forcing manufacturers to reduce sugar content and develop natural alternatives to artificial sweeteners (such as stevia blends) in their products. Our new report studies the impacts of this change on global ingredients; consumer markets such as packaged foods, soft drinks and health and wellness; company strategy and legislation.
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Sugar has become public enemy number one in packaged foods and drinks.
As increasing amounts of scientific research link it with obesity and tooth decay, sugar is seen as a health risk by most and as toxic as tobacco by others.
Fat is receding as the main problem, as public perception now lays the blame on sugary foods and drinks. In March 2014 the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that cutting intake to 5% (instead of the current 10%) of an adult's daily calories but would have additional benefits.
Governments are increasingly concerned about the rising costs of illnesses such as type 2 diabetes and cancer, which have risen alongside an obesity epidemic. The battle between food companies and governments may only just beginning; if health systems fail under the strain of obesity-related diseases, regulators will act prevent rather than cure them.
Several countries are introducing legislation to help curb intake of sugary foods; health warnings, sales taxes, banning of junk foods in schools, restrictions on advertising to children and reduced portion sizes will become more prevalent. Forms of sugar tax have already been introduced in Denmark, France, Finland, Hungary, Mexico and India.
Cut out sugar products
Sugar, fat and carbohydrate intake is falling, as consumers become aware of the need to maintain a healthy weight to prevent the onset of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Euromonitor International's Global Consumer Trends Survey 2013 revealed that over half of consumers are involved in some sort of weight loss or management system, with 23% on a formal diet.
Minimising sugar is high on the agenda for many consumers. Given a list of ingredients they specifically look for on food labels, 42% checked for limited or no added sugar.
Obesity will no longer be a problem limited to rich nations. Latest Euromonitor data shows obesity rates are set to increase in all countries over the forecast period, reaching 46% of the US population by 2018. The data also showed Chinese consumers were most likely to check for sugar content, while, Russian and Japanese consumers were far less concerned.
Health campaigners are also increasingly concerned about the high levels of hidden sugars in many alcoholic drinks – especially in cider, fortified wines and liqueurs.
Sweet Alternatives to Sugar
Many high profile anti-sugar protests highlight the notion that that fructose is a bigger problem than fat; it has zero nutritional value, it can cause liver damage and heart disease, it may help the body retain fat, it cause obesity and type 2 diabetes, it can be “addictive” releasing dopamine in the brain to produce a sensation akin to being rewarded.
The food industry also argues that sugar is an essential component of processed foods because it helps make products more palatable, it’s a bulking agent, texture modifier, flavour enhancer and preservative. There is no one ingredient that can replicate all of these functions in every product.
Until recently, high-intensity sweeteners have suffered from their artificial image, sometimes bitter aftertaste and a lack of consumer trust in synthetic ingredients. Aspartame, in particular, has come under fire, despite a vast number of scientific studies proving its safety.
In the face of thebacklash both against sugar and artificial sweeteners, companies have been scrambling to develop naturally sweetened low-calorie formulations. The high intensity sweetener stevia has emerged as a clear winner since being approved for use in a number of markets.
Clearly Labelling the Sugar Content
Currently, companies need only specify the total sugar content in their products but under proposals put forward by the FDA in June 2014, labels would also include the quantity of “added sugars”.
Health campaigners will continue to put pressure on manufacturers to reduce the levels of hidden sugars in products such as bread, ready meals and dairy items, and to be more transparent about thesugar levels in all food and drink products by providing clearer information on nutrition labels.
The Sugar Backlash and its Effects on Global Consumer Markets
Trends in ingredients
Chart 1 Global High Intensity Sweeteners Market by Type 2013
Consumer market trends
INTRODUCTION AND DEFINITIONS
The demonisation of sugar
Types of sweetener Bulk sweeteners Summary 1 Types of Sugars and Bulk Sweeteners High Intensity Sweeteners Summary 2 Types of High Intensity Sweeteners
Fact versus opinion
The facts about sugar Arguments of the anti-sugar lobby Arguments of the sugar lobby Summary 3 Arguments For and Against Sugar Reduction
The obesity pandemic
A burden on healthcare systems The US has highest levels of obesity Chart 2 Obese Population in Key Markets 2008/2013 Increasing incidence of type 2 diabetes Turkey and Germany suffer highest rates of diabetes Alarming prospects for young Americans Chart 3 Prevalence of Diabetes in Key Markets 2008/2013
Sugary drinks are the main culprit Incidence highest in emerging markets Chart 4 Children’s Dental Health in Key Markets 2013
Life expectancy increases Obesity linked to low incomes Chart 5 Life Expectancy at Birth in Key Markets 2008/2013
Regulatory guidelines and legislation
WHO stands firm The difficulties in calculating added sugar New lobby group puts pressure on sugar industry Consumer pressure groups Legislative measures Mexican government takes drastic action Taxing sugar Food labelling changes Sweeteners also affected by labelling regulations
Developments in low-calorie sweeteners
Stevia benefits from its natural origins Removing bitter aftertaste Advantame gains approval in US and EU Replacing sugar’s other functions
CONSUMER ATTITUDES TOWARDS SUGAR
Consumers are better educated about nutrition “Weight watching” more popular than actual dieting Indians reveal highest rates of diabetes Chart 6 Dietary Restrictions by Country 2013 Almost half of women seek products with limited or no added sugar Concerns about HFCS highest in Brazil and China Fewer than a third seek low-calorie foods Chart 7 “Which of the following factors or ingredients do you look for on food labels and food ingredient labels?” by Country 2013 Chart 8 “Which of the following factors or ingredients do you look for on food labels and food ingredient labels?” by Age Group 2013 Chart 9 “Which of the following factors or ingredients do you look for on food labels and food ingredient labels?” by Gender Attitudes towards low-calorie soft drinks Chart 10 “Which of the following phrases would you use to describe low calorie soft drinks” 2012?
Gradual shift towards high intensity sweeteners Sucrose still forms bulk of sugar sales Erythritol enjoys strong growth Consumers still mistrustful of aspartame Sucralose sales double Stevia revolutionises the market Table 1 Global Sales of Sugar and Sweeteners as Ingredients by Category 2008/2013 US still dominates the market for stevia Chart 11 Leading Markets for Stevia 2013
Regular carbonates laden with sugar Latin America sees rise in cola consumption Chart 12 Per Capita Consumption of Regular Cola Carbonates in Leading Markets 2008/2013 Consumers mistrust artificial sweeteners Norwegians prefer low-calorie colas Chart 13 Per Capita Consumption of Low-calorie Cola Carbonates in Leading Markets 2008/2013 Eliminating aspartame Mid-calorie carbonates create new category Summary 4 Mid-calorie Carbonate Launches 2012-2014 Fruit juice also comes under fire RTD tea enjoys strongest growth Flavoured water benefits from health trend Chart 14 Reduced-sugar Soft Drinks as a % of Total Soft Drinks by Category 2008/2013 Table 2 Global Sales of Reduced-sugar and Regular Soft Drinks by Category 2008/2013
Sweet packaged foods
Sales of sweet foods hold up well, despite sugar backlash Indians acquire a taste for chocolate Table 3 Sales of Sugary Foods by Type 2009/2014 Brazil has the sweetest tooth Indians aspire to sweet foods Chart 15 Per Capita Consumption of Sugary Packaged Foods by Country 2014
Better For You (BFY) foods
Reduced-sugar category still niche Low-fat foods are deceptively sugary Consumers favour natural foods Chart 16 Global Sales of BFY Packaged Food by Type 2009/2014 Sugar-free gum dominates reduced-sugar confectionery Meeting demand for taste and texture Developments in stevia Table 4 Global sales of Reduced-Sugar Packaged Foods by Category 2009/2014
Sugars have replaced fats in processed foods German study reveals very high sugar levels in children’s cereals Chart 17 Sugar Content of Breakfast Cereals in Germany 2012 Sugar in bread Alcoholic drinks
KEY MARKET TRENDS
Anti-sugar campaigns hit home Low-calorie carbonates stride ahead Chart 18 Australia: Obesity 2008-2018 Indulgence versus calorie control Table 5 Australia: Sales of Sweet Packaged Foods and Drinks 2009/2014
A nation of sugar lovers Obesity levels soar Chart 19 Brazil: Obesity and Diabetes 2008-2018 Middle classes fuel growth in sweet processed foods Ice cream sales boom Table 6 Brazil: Sales of Sweet Packaged Foods and Drinks 2009/2014
Childhood obesity on the rise Chart 20 China: Obesity and Diabetes 2008-2018 Rising incomes drive demand for indulgence foods... ...but health-orientated drinks are gaining traction China is the home of stevia Table 7 China: Sales of Sweet Packaged Foods and Drinks 2009/2014
Obesity and diabetes reach dangerous levels Chart 21 Germany: Obesity and Diabetes 2008-2018 Palates adjust to low-sugar drinks Confectionery consumption remains high, but consumers downsize Table 8 Germany: Sales of Sweet Packaged Foods and Drinks 2009/2014
Government takes drastic action Chart 22 Mexico: Obesity and Diabetes 2008-2018 Sugary drinks tax could boost demand for low-calorie beverages Nation’s sweet tooth goes beyond sugary drinks Table 9 Mexico: Sales of Sweet Packaged Foods and Drinks 2009/2014
Leading Europe in the obesity stakes Tooth decay on the rise Chart 23 UK: Obesity and Diabetes 2008-2018 Sources of added sugar vary by age Increasing awareness of “hidden nasties” Chart 24 UK: Daily Added Sugar Intake by Age Group Chart 25 UK: Sources of Added Sugar by Age Group Children warned to cut down on fruit juice Stevia is well received Table 10 UK: Sales of Sweet Packaged Foods and Drinks 2009/2014
The world’s largest nation Sugar banned from schools Chart 26 US: Obesity and Diabetes US 2008-2018 Most added sugars come from soft drinks Chart 27 US: Sources of Added Sugar by Age Group Carbonates lose share to healthier drinks Consumers ambivalent towards stevia Zero-calorie liquid concentrates see surprise growth Table 11 US: Sales of Sweet Packaged Foods and Drinks 2009/2014
Sugar reduction by stealth
Educating consumers’ taste buds Dannon cuts down in the US Mondelez more reluctant Stealth or health