The demand for sugar-free beverages is growing rapidly, mainly due to the growing awareness regarding their health benefits for diabetics, the development of new products, and the growing popularity of flavored soft drinks. Also, the growing demand for health and sports drinks with low sugar content contributes to the increasing consumption of sugar-free beverages globally.
Juices and soft drinks are consumed by millions worldwide. The rising consumption of juices and soft drinks has indirectly affected the overall health of consumers, leading to obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and an increased ratio of diabetic patients due to the increased sugar intake through beverages. Thus, high-intensity sweeteners are used to replace sugar in juices to reduce sugar intake.
Stevia is increasingly being used as an active sweetening ingredient in beverage formulations. It is used in the beverage industry due to its low caloric content and glycemic response and its ability to reduce the risk of dental cavities. Stevia components Reb D and M are widely used in beverages due to their organoleptic properties, high-potency sweetness, and absence of bitter aftertaste.
Moreover, according to key national health and nutrition organizations, adequate intake of healthy beverages is important for good health. The introduction of such beverages in the global market is expected to propel the demand for stevia in the coming years due to consumers’ growing preference for sugar-free beverages. For instance, in June 2021, Virgil's, a Reed's Inc. (U.S.) brand, launched three new zero sugar, ketogenic certified varieties: Grapefruit, Dr. Better and Ginger Ale sweetened with a mixture of erythritol and stevia. In February 2020, Uncle Matt's Organic (U.S.) launched no-sugar lemonades sweetened with stevia.
Moreover, leading beverage companies are focused on launching stevia-based products, driving the demand for stevia. For instance, in September 2019, PotonGuler launched condensed milk sweetened with stevia. Also, in May 2019, The Coca-Cola Company launched a stevia-sweetened soda with low sugar and no bitter aftertaste to cater to health-conscious customers, and in April 2019, Nestlé Australia launched the stevia-sweetened Milo chocolate malt beverage in Australia. In 2019, launches of stevia-sweetened products increased by 36% compared to the previous year. (Source: Purecircle). This trend is expected to continue over the forecast period.
Apart from the soft and carbonated beverages industry, the sports drinks/energy drinks industry is also adopting high-intensity sweeteners to reduce sugar content. The increasing awareness about living healthy lifestyles has driven the demand for natural energy and sports drinks. Sports drinks are nutritionally enriched drinks containing minerals, vitamins, proteins, and other components. They are generally made with high-intensity sweeteners such as sucralose, having lower calories and carbohydrates than sugar. They are normally intended for consumers that need iron and potassium. Furthermore, the increasing demand for energy drinks has influenced health nutrition manufacturers to mark their presence in the energy drinks market. For instance, in December 2022, Applied Nutrition Ltd. (U.K.) launched its low-calorie, sugar-free electrolyte water sweetened with sucralose for sports recovery.
Hence, the increasing adoption of high-intensity sweeteners in the beverage industry drives the growth of the high-intensity sweeteners market.
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