In the past two years, major changes have hit the sweeteners marketplace.
If you're just waking up from a long winter's nap, here are a few highlights you should know:
1. Organic erythritol is back on the market.
A polyol (sugar alcohol) found in low levels in fruits and fermented foods, erythritol often serves as a zero-calorie sucrose replacer in foods.
Cargill began offering an organic version in 2009, but then abruptly pulled the product when it decided it wasn't making enough money. The decision highlighted how vulnerable many product manufacturers are to their organic ingredient suppliers.
"There was a lot of heartburn about that one," said Tim Avila, owner of Zsweet erithritol ingredient. "There were some very successful finished products, like Organic Zero, which was straight erythritol in a bag, that suddenly had the carpet pulled out from under them."
A Chinese company has stepped forward to fill the vacuum. The new supplier came too late for Wholesome Sweeteners, however. The company no longer carries Organic Zero, and instead has relaunched its All-Natural Zero and Organic Stevia products.
Other erythritol news in the coming year, Avila predicts, is a "tsunami" of erythritol/stevia blends will be flooding the market. "Several were premiered at Expo West in March, and there are lots of people in the wings who are going to do it too," he said.
2. Consumers are continuing to turn to lower-calorie beverages.
In terms of servings, lower-calorie beverages gained 9.5 percent between 2006 and 2011. In terms of share of total sales, lower-calorie drinks claimed 32.4 percent of sales in 2006, versus 34.1 percent of sales in 2011.
3. New natural sweetening compounds in the works.
In October 2012, San-Diego-based flavor innovator Senomyx announced it is screening a series of novel plant-based high-potency natural sweetening compounds in a bid to find the next stevia or monk fruit—and in fact a compound had been identified.
The company secured GRAS status for its sucrose enhancer S9632. Senomyx has cash reserves of almost $50 million and is expecting to post net losses of $8 to 10 million on revenues of $30-$33 million in fiscal 2012.
Want to learn more? This is a small part of the Engredea Monograph: Sweeteners Edition. Click here, for more information!