[Weekender] The candy truth_ Dissecting sugar-free merchandise

For Kim Hyo-jung, a 31-year-old workplace employee in Seoul, who’s one in every of many health-conscious customers seeking to keep away from sugar and added energy at each flip, sugar-free drinks have lengthy been a truth of life.

“Who doesn’t know an excessive amount of sugar is unhealthy for you? I do not assume I’m being significantly choosy as a result of virtually everybody round me (thinks) like me,” Kim stated, including that discovering sugar-free smooth drinks hasn’t been too exhausting.

For a while, sugar-free or zero-sugar merchandise have been the norm within the native meals and beverage business as a result of they use synthetic sweeteners which have virtually no caloric worth. Such merchandise vary from drinks and alcohol to baked and canned items, plus even cough drops.

The no-calorie issue appears to enchantment to folks throughout all age teams, together with youngsters and mothers acutely aware of what they feed their youngsters. That’s as a result of sugar-free merchandise are thought-about a lift to weight management and avoiding the potential detrimental well being results of sugar, although the World Well being Group referred to as them misconceptions in a report in Could.

In line with Euromonitor Worldwide, a London-based market analysis agency, the native sugar-free market measurement final yr is believed to have expanded virtually thrice since 2016, when it was price round 90.3 billion gained ($70 million).

The demand for high-sugar drinks like juice, nonetheless, has been on the decline. In line with South Korea’s Meals Data Statistics System, the native juice market shrank to 643.2 billion gained in 2021 from 743 billion gained in 2017.

“You don’t must look exhausting to seek out zero-sugar drinks, so naturally a decline (in demand for high-sugar drinks) is inevitable,” stated an business insider who wished to stay nameless.

The newest gross sales information launched by Lotte Chilsung Beverage, the business chief, confirmed its sugar-free drink gross sales final yr got here to 190 billion gained, a 111 % on-year rise.

The growing urge for food for sugar-free merchandise was most noticeable in Coca-Cola drinks. The gross sales of Coke Zero rose 29 % on-year in 2022, in contrast with common Coke’s 6 % rise in the identical interval, in accordance with LG Family & Well being Care, the unique native distributor of Coca-Cola.

Roadblock forward

However the pattern could quickly be hitting a possible slowdown, with information {that a} in style synthetic sweetener, aspartame, is about to be declared as “presumably carcinogenic to people” by the Worldwide Company for Analysis on Most cancers (IARC), the World Well being Group’s most cancers analysis arm.

The additive is more likely to be in Group 2B, the third-highest threat group after Group 1 and 2A, which the company describes as “carcinogenic” and “most likely carcinogenic,” respectively.

On the similar time, a separate WHO professional committee on meals components — the Joint WHO and Meals and Agriculture Group’s Knowledgeable Committee on Meals Components or JECFA — may even reveal acceptable day by day consumption (ADI) suggestions of the additive. That’s what the WHO defines as the quantity that may be digested over a lifetime with out important dangers to well being.

Aspartame is about 200 instances sweeter than sugar and is without doubt one of the 22 sweeteners authorised by the Ministry of Meals and Drug Security. The information that the low-calorie sugar substitute, additionally authorised by the US Meals and Drug Administration in 1974, may very well be declared a potential carcinogen instantly unsettled the native beverage and makgeolli markets.

Lotte Chilsung Beverage, which distributes Pepsi Zero, a product made with aspartame, stated it was consulting its international headquarters about utilizing options, with out elaborating additional.

An official from Seoul Jangsoo, which accounts for round 40 % of the native makgeolli market, stated makgeolli makers would take joint motion upon the declaration, including that they “may even take into account altering recipes to single out the additive if wanted.”

In the meantime, some retailers have already launched campaigns touting non-aspartame merchandise to attract in prospects more and more shying away from the potential well being dangers.

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