According to 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, people over the age of two should limit their intake of added sugars to 10% of their total daily calories (for example, for a 2000 calorie diet, no more than 200 calories should come from added sugars, i.e. equivalent to about 12 teaspoons). The CDC reported that in 2017-2018, the average intake of added sugars was 17 teaspoons for adults 20 and older.
While most consumers’ average sugar intake remains high, many are paying more attention to sugar content on labels according to NPD Group research which found that for 56% of adults 18 and older, pay the most attention to a product’s sugar content above other key Nutrition Facts label elements, including calories (45%) and sodium (38%).
Yet demand for alternatives to sweeteners is at an all-time high, proving that sweetness is in demand.
“Just because consumers are avoiding added sugars doesn’t mean they’re turning away from desserts and sugar altogether. Natural sugars are important components of a healthy diet, so the goal is not to replace sugar with synthetic substitutes.” rated SPINS in a report.
“Brands have learned that shoppers are interested in keeping sugars in their diets, but want them to be derived from natural sources.”
According to NielsenIQ data, there were around 5.1 million online searchers for “sugar-free products” in 2021, with searches for products containing stevia accounting for 2.1 million searches, followed by monk fruit. with 1.2 million searches last year.
Stevia, monk fruit, sugar alcohols?
SPINS data on all natural and conventional products showed that dollar sales of products containing monk fruit (+20%), stevia (+15%) and sugar alcohols (+3%) are all up year-over-year in the 52-week period ended January 31, 2022.
In a category such as beverages where consumers have become more wary of the amount of sugar used, SPINS saw a year-over-year increase in sales of products containing coconut sugar (+21%), sugar alcohols (+20%) and stevia (+10%). Dollar sales of drinks containing monk fruit increased by +1.3% over the last 52 weeks.
Consumer attention to sugar content is not limited to beverages, however, shoppers have also become increasingly aware of sugar in dried and meat snacks, cookies and snacks, and candies, noted SPINS, which found that dollar sales growth in every category of products without “sweet ingredients” outpaces their conventional, higher-sugar counterparts.
Keto, no signs of slowing down?
Several food trends will continue to favor low-calorie and zero-calorie sweeteners, SPINS noted.
“More shoppers have adopted diets, such as keto and whole30, that eliminate high-sugar products and focus more on protein and unprocessed foods. From 2018 to 2021, sales of certified keto products increased by 14.9%”,said SPINS, who doesn’t foresee the keto trend slowing down in the near future.
In the three most mature top-selling categories, keto items have grown steadily year over year. In shelf stable sodas and soft drinks, sales of products with keto claims increased by +10.4%, shelf stable water (+5%) and chilled creams and creams (+ 4.6%).
Behavior of the future buyer
“Ditching added sugars sounds simple, but there are dozens of ways to spot sweeteners on a label, and as more brands innovate, that list will grow. ‘they opt for one specific ingredient over another – they just know they’re avoiding certain ones’,said SPINS, noting that brands that focus on a natural sweetener positioning are poised to meet growing consumer demand for low-sugar or sugar-free products.