Sweeteners are widely used in food products to improve the taste and shelf life of food products and balance the bitterness, sourness, or saltiness of the food. Sugar is the most common type of sweetener used widely across the world. However, the advances in science have paved the way for new generation of artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin, sorbitol, sucralose, stevia, and xylitol. Although such artificial products received much heat in the past due to health issues, many research studies have provided strong evidence that it is safe for human consumption. The procurement market intelligence report from SpendEdge reports that the demand for sweeteners is on the rise due to increasing demand from emerging economies such as China and India. The surge in demand can be attributed to growing number of restaurant chains, changing dietary patterns, rising disposable incomes, and the growing availability of chocolates and confectionery products.
Procurement challenges in sweeteners market
High sulfur content in sugar
The process of refining sugar involves a standard supplication process that makes use of sulfur at two stages. At times, traces of sulfur content remain in sugar even after the final processing. Numerous countries have banned products with high sulfur content as higher sulfur content can cause certain respiratory problems among other health problems in humans. As a result, buyers should engage with suppliers that use alternative methods of refining sugar, which does not involve the use of sulfur. Using carbon dioxide instead of sulfur is one of the emerging alternatives.
Use of GMO
In recent times, the use of GMO ingredients has come under scrutiny due to concerns over its health effects. As a result, governments across the world strictly monitor the use of GMO, making it essential for food manufacturers to ensure that the sugar or sweetener sourced is not produced using genetically modified sugarcane or sugar beet. In order to avoid the use of GMO ingredients in the product, buyers can ask suppliers to provide a certificate that states that products are not made using genetically modified ingredients.
Lack of supply chain transparency of suppliers
The big suppliers of sweeteners source their raw materials such as sugarcane or sugar beet from small family-owned farms. The raw material is then processed through refineries and goes through complex production system before getting converted into raw sugar. This system does not provide clarity in the supply chain of the sweeteners as sources of raw material, quality of crops used, and the conversion process is not so transparent. It is essential that buyers ask suppliers to submit periodic documents containing traceability details such as the source of raw material and farm location. The new blockchain technology can also assist buyers to assess the overall supply chain.
Fair-trade and sustainability certified sugar
There have been numerous instances and debates on the unfair trade practices which pays sugarcane farmers small sums of money for their products. Majority of the sugarcane farmers are from developing regions and Fairtrade certification aims to protect these farmers against the volatile market and hazardous working conditions. Also, end-consumers prefer sustainably manufactured sugar which implies that production practices used for sugar are environmentally safe and sustainable. Buyers should look out for suppliers that provide fairtrade and sustainability certified sweeteners. End-consumers are willing to consume products which support fairtrade practices and sustainability.
Read more about the trends in the sweeteners market along with sourcing strategies, procurement best practices, and pricing insights in SpendEdge’s upcoming report on the global sweeteners market.