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Prices of sugar substitute products falling? Which natural sweetener is the best?

Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2023-09-25      Origin: Site

Within the intricate landscape of sweeteners, artificial sweeteners have seen six generations of development but continue to be mired in safety controversies. Meanwhile, natural sweeteners, although holding a smaller market share, possess immense potential. This article will focus on the emerging trends in the natural sweeteners market in the first half of 2023, providing insights into their development trajectory.

1. Market Expansion: Artificial Sweeteners Still Dominate

Back in 1879, American scientists discovered saccharin, giving birth to the concept of "sugar substitutes." With advancements in extraction and synthesis techniques, the variety of artificial sweeteners has expanded significantly. Calculated in terms of sweetness compared to sucrose, different sweeteners have various degrees of sweetness and flavor, as shown in the table below.

ClassifyFlavorSweetness (1 for sucrose)


High sweetness natural sweetenerSomatame neo-orange
epixixib dihydrochalcone
High sweetness and no peculiar smell2000-3000African arrowroot
classifyThe sweetness lasts for a long time1500-1800Citrus plants
Sweet (leaf)
inulin shake
(Partial) Bitterness is pronounced200-300Stevia
Monk fruit sweetHigh sweetness,
licorice aftertaste
300Monk fruit
LicoriceHigh sweetness and
obvious licorice flavor
50 pluck alaslicorice
Low sweetness natural sweetenerMaltitolPure sweetness0.9-1Microbial fermentation
xylitolThere is a feeling of coolness0.9-1
D-tagatoseThere is a bitter taste0.9
ErythritolThe sweetness is pure and cool0.6-0.8
AllulosePure sweetness0.7
sorbitolThere is a cooling feeling0.5
High sweetness artificialSucraloseThe sweet taste is pure,
close to sucrose
saccharinThe bitterness is obvious and
needs to be compounded
aspartameThe sweet taste is pure, close to sucrose160-220
Acesulfame KHigh concentration has a bitter taste200
CyclamateThe bitterness is obvious and needs to be compounded30-50

Over the past decade, the proportion of natural sweeteners in the food market has increased by nearly 20%. However, the overall sweeteners market continues to be dominated by artificial sweeteners. In 2021, China's sweetener production was approximately 253,000 tons, with artificial sweeteners such as saccharin (44%), cyclamate (28%), and aspartame (12%) leading the way.

The previous controversy over aspartame being classified as a potential carcinogen (Group 2B) renewed global consumer interest in sweeteners and provided a boost to natural sweeteners. Among them, erythritol, steviol glycosides, mogrosides, and the soon-to-be-approved D-allulose in China have attracted significant attention.

2. Erythritol: Facing Challenges for the Top Spot

Erythritol, a four-carbon sugar alcohol found widely in nature, was once a frontrunner in the sweetener industry. Its superior taste made prices and demand soar, but as the market became saturated, erythritol faced challenges.Due to oversupply, the price of erythritol once reached 40,000 yuan per ton in 2021, but fell below 10,000 yuan per ton in the first half of 2023.

However, it's important to note that the erythritol controversy earlier this year, where participants ingested nearly 30g of erythritol in just 2 minutes, equivalent to the amount in 5 bottles of 300ml sugar-free beverages, far exceeded normal consumption levels. Moderation remains key in the use of sugar substitutes.

3. D-Allulose: Poised for Entry with Tremendous Potential in China

D-allulose, a stereoisomer of fructose, is naturally found in sources like sugarcane, fruits, and dried fruits. It has 70% of the sweetness of sucrose but only 0.3% of the calories, making it a promising sugar substitute.

By the first half of 2023, D-allulose had gained approval as a food ingredient in over ten countries and regions, including the United States, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Singapore, South Korea, and Japan. Besides being used as a food additive, D-allulose also exhibits functions like blood sugar regulation, antioxidant properties, and neuroprotection. It inhibits the activity of intestinal α-glucosidase, reducing sugar absorption in the small intestine, suppressing fat accumulation, improving insulin sensitivity, and lowering blood sugar.

D-Allulose-3-epimerase has been recognized as a new enzyme for the food industry, accelerating the legalization of D-allulose sales in China.The production capacity of domestic enterprises is also growing.

4. Steviol Glycosides: The Rise of Complex Formulations

Steviol glycosides, extracted from the leaves of the stevia plant, have a taste similar to sucrose but only 1/300th of the calories. According to Ingredion, the global steviol glycosides market is projected to exceed 1.6 billion USD by 2028. In the first half of this year, growth and innovation in the steviol glycosides market revolved around expanding superior varieties and optimizing complex formulations.

In May, sweetener brand Splenda and its parent company, Heartland Food Products, announced a 50 million USD investment in establishing stevia farms in the United States. They plan to enhance agricultural technology throughout the entire process, from crop breeding to steviol glycoside extraction. This effort aims to produce higher-quality stevia leaves, resulting in better-tasting steviol glycosides.

Complex formulations involving steviol glycosides have become a major trend:

Steviol Glycosides + Thaumatin: Thaumatin is a sweet protein derived from the katemfe fruit in Africa. It has a high sweetness without bitterness and, when combined with steviol glycosides, enhances sweetness.

Steviol Glycosides + Erythritol: Erythritol can modify the sweetness time curve. Combining steviol glycosides and erythritol through co-crystallization technology provides both the functions of erythritol and the original properties of steviol glycosides.

Steviol Glycosides + D-Allulose + Mogrosides: Icon Foods in the United States has combined steviol glycosides, D-allulose, and mogrosides to create a sweetener with enhanced palatability, suitable for beverages, frozen desserts, and syrup production, among other applications.

Furthermore, countries like Japan and South Korea have pioneered the development of glucose-based steviol glycosides. By selectively introducing glucose groups into steviol glycoside molecules, these innovations aim to improve taste and solubility while addressing any inherent bitterness.


In conclusion, the relationship between humans and sugar is both love and hate. For consumers, maintaining a scientifically rational attitude toward sweeteners is essential. Regardless of the type, moderation in sugar consumption is crucial. The global market is continually searching for sweeteners that are less burdensome on the body, alleviating consumer concerns about their health. In light of this, the future of sweeteners remains an exciting prospect.

Which sweetener will be more popular among people in the future? That's a question with multiple facets, as each sweetener offers its unique advantages and applications. As the natural sweeteners market evolves, it's likely that consumers will gravitate towards a combination of these options, embracing sweeteners that meet their specific needs while addressing health concerns. The sweetener landscape is evolving, and it's an exciting journey for both consumers and the industry.

This article provides insights into the emerging trends in the natural sweeteners market in 2023. As consumers seek healthier alternatives and the industry responds with innovations, the sweetener market is poised for exciting developments in the coming years. Whether you're a producer or a consumer, keeping an eye on these trends can help you make informed choices in the world of sweeteners.

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