Food and beverage industry awaits impact of food regulations on non-nutritive sweeteners

The South African food sweetener market, which includes sugar, polyols and non-nutritive sweeteners, is at a crucial inflection point in its growth trajectory. The market is dominated by sugar, when analysed in terms of volume, and sugar consumption continues to grow in line with the country’s gross domestic product and population expansion. However, sugar could slowly lose ground to sugar substitutes, especially non-nutritive sweeteners, owing to health concerns, such as obesity and non-communicable diseases. New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Analysis of the South African Food Sweetener Market (, finds that despite South Africa’s high per capita sugar consumption, sugar production is slower than the rest of Africa and is set to wane. Higher production capacity than is currently needed for the domestic market in South Africa; however, offers scope for export. Says Frost & Sullivan Chemicals, Materials and Food Senior Industry Analyst Carolyn Krynauw: “The demand for sugar, at present, remains steady as consumers favour the sweet taste that it provides. While the sugar-free trend has also led to an increase in the use of non-nutritive sweeteners, the government is looking to limit the dependence of the food and beverage industry on such sweeteners.” Regulations proposed by the South African Department of Health have created a wave of uncertainty in the non-nutritive sweetener segment, which could affect profits. As a result, this is driving manufacturers to return to sugar while the search is on for new, more natural sweeteners.