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Attitudes toward Beverage Sweeteners - US - March 2012

Consumer health concerns are the top factor in shaping their attitudes toward sweeteners. Although obesity rates have nearly stabilized in the past five years at 68%, they still remain high. As a result, more than half of U.S. adults aged 18+ watch their diets and around 60% of these diet-watching adults, which translates into 72 million people, do so to lose weight. During 2005-11, there has also been a significant rise in the number of people who watch their diet to monitor blood sugar. Therefore, the demand for non-diet beverages is likely to decline in the next five years.

As consumers deal with obesity and related diseases, low/no-sugar beverages should find greater acceptance among diet-watching consumers. However, the biggest diet non-alcoholic beverage (NAB) category (i.e., diet soda) has shown signs of stagnation in consumer penetration. One of the reasons is the growing consumer skepticism toward the safety of non-nutritive sweeteners, often termed as artificial. Taste is another big issue with diet sweeteners; according to Mintel’s research findings, 58% of all diet beverage buyers say that diet beverages taste worse than non-diet beverages.

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction

    • Issues in the market
      • What shapes consumers’ attitudes toward sweeteners?
        • What motivates consumers to buy diet beverages?
          • What are the issues and opportunities with artificial and all-natural diet sweeteners?
            • What are consumers’ views on high-fructose corn syrup?
              • Definition
                • Data sources
                  • Consumer survey data
                    • Abbreviations and terms
                      • Abbreviations
                        • Terms
                        • Executive Summary

                            • Market factors
                              • Health concerns shape consumer attitudes toward beverage sweeteners
                                • Figure 1: Percentage of population aged 20+ who are overweight, obese, or extremely obese, 1988-2008
                              • More than half of all adults watch their diet; a majority to lose weight
                                • Figure 2: Reasons for watching diet, May 2004-June 2011
                              • Current trend toward natural food puts artificial sweeteners at disadvantage
                                • Figure 3: Attitude/opinion about food, by gender and age, April 2010-June 2011
                              • Added sugar consumption through beverages is on decline in the U.S.
                                • Figure 4: Percent change in added sugar consumption from beverages on an average day between 1999-2000 and 2007-08
                              • Brands and innovation
                                • Sweetener blends proliferate in new beverage products
                                    • Figure 5: Trends in the usage of different types of sweeteners in new non-alcoholic beverage products, 2009-11
                                  • The consumer
                                    • Regular beverages more popular than diet
                                      • Figure 6: Incidence of buying regular (non-diet) or diet beverages for personal consumption, December 2011
                                    • Real sugar perceived better than high-fructose corn syrup
                                      • Figure 7: Sweeteners regular beverage buyers look for and avoid in regular NAB, by age, December 2011
                                      • Figure 8: Attitudes toward diet beverages and sweeteners, December 2011
                                    • Calorie control is the biggest motivation for buying diet non-alcoholic beverages
                                      • Figure 9: Reasons for drinking diet beverages, by age, December 2011
                                    • Men and women aged 18-34 more resistant to non-nutritive sweeteners
                                      • Figure 10: Attitude toward diet beverages and sweeteners, by gender and age, December 2011
                                    • Beverage industry is likely losing black and Hispanic consumers
                                      • Figure 11: Attitude toward diet beverages and sweeteners, by race/Hispanic origin, December 2011
                                    • The majority of beverage buyers have not tried stevia-based beverages
                                      • Figure 12: Attitudes toward stevia-based beverages, by gender, December 2011
                                    • It is important to include calorie and sweetener information clearly on packaging
                                      • Figure 13: Incidence of checking sweetener type and calorie content on packaging before buying NABs, December 2011
                                    • What we think
                                    • Insights and Opportunities

                                      • Take a multiple sweetener approach to conquer taste issues
                                        • Real sugar versus high-fructose corn syrup
                                          • Figure 14: Trends in cane/beet sugar, HFCS, and other* caloric sweetener consumption, 1999-2010
                                        • Diet beverages offer opportunities
                                          • Diet sweeteners: artificial vs. natural
                                          • Inspire Insights

                                              • Trend: “Factory Fear”
                                                • Trend: “Minimize Me”
                                                • Market Factors

                                                  • Key points
                                                    • Health concerns shape consumer attitudes toward beverage sweeteners
                                                      • High prevalence of obesity continues to plague the U.S. population
                                                        • Figure 15: Percentage of population aged 20+ who are overweight, obese, or extremely obese, 1988-2008
                                                      • Low-carbohydrate diet
                                                        • Growing incidence of diabetes alienates consumers from regular sweeteners
                                                          • Figure 16: prevalence of diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes among adults aged 20+, 2005-08
                                                        • More than half of all adults watch their diet; a majority to lose weight
                                                          • Figure 17: Presently watching diet, May 2004-June 2011
                                                          • Figure 18: Reasons for watching diet, May 2004-June 2011
                                                        • Diet beverages should find success, but there are hurdles
                                                          • Diet sweeteners are linked to a number of health problems
                                                            • Consumer trend toward natural food puts artificial sweeteners at disadvantage
                                                              • Figure 19: Attitude/opinion about food, by gender and age, April 2010-June 2011
                                                            • Economic implications of too much sugar in beverages: sugar tax
                                                              • Let’s Move program likely to further vilify regular sweeteners
                                                              • How Much Sugar Americans Consume Through Beverages

                                                                • Key points
                                                                  • How much sugar do Americans consume through beverages?
                                                                    • Figure 20: Average per capita intake of various NABs* on an average day, by age and gender, 2006
                                                                    • Figure 21: Average per capita added sugar intake per day from soda, fruit drinks, sugary tea, and sports drinks, by age and gender, 2006
                                                                  • Added sugar consumption through beverages is on decline in the U.S.
                                                                    • Figure 22: Trends in added sugar consumption from all food sources on an average day, 1999-2000 and 2007-08
                                                                    • Figure 23: Trends in added sugar consumption from beverages on an average day, 1999-2000 and 2007-08
                                                                  • Added sugar intake higher from food rather than beverages
                                                                    • Figure 24: Percentage of kilocalories from added sugar among U.S. children and adolescents aged 2-19 years, by type of food and location of food was consumed, 2005-08
                                                                • Historical Impact of Sweeteners on Shaping Consumer Attitude

                                                                  • Introduction
                                                                    • Saccharin (Sweet’N Low)
                                                                      • Consumer acceptance and perception
                                                                        • Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal)
                                                                          • Health risks
                                                                            • Consumer acceptance and perception
                                                                              • Sucralose (Splenda)
                                                                                • Health risks
                                                                                  • Consumer acceptance and perception
                                                                                    • Acesulfame Potassium (Nutrinova)
                                                                                      • Health risks
                                                                                        • Consumer acceptance and perception
                                                                                          • High-fructose corn syrup
                                                                                            • The making of HFCS
                                                                                              • Use of HFCS has generally increased since the 1980s
                                                                                                • HFCS blamed for the obesity epidemic
                                                                                                  • Evidence of HFCS’s role in obesity is growing but remains elusive
                                                                                                    • History and usage of stevia
                                                                                                    • Innovation and Innovators

                                                                                                      • Key points
                                                                                                        • Acesulfame potassium (Ace K) popular in combination with aspartame or sucralose
                                                                                                          • Figure 25: New Ace K-sweetened product count, 2006-11
                                                                                                          • Figure 26: New Ace K-sweetened product count, by beverage segment, 2011
                                                                                                        • Use of alcohol sugar rises in new non-alcoholic beverage products
                                                                                                          • Figure 27: New Ace K & aspartame-sweetened or Ace K & sucralose-sweetened product count, 2006-11
                                                                                                          • Figure 28: New erythritol-sweetened product count, by beverage segment, 2011
                                                                                                        • The number of sugar-sweetened NABs continues to rise
                                                                                                          • Figure 29: New sugar-sweetened product count, 2006-11
                                                                                                          • Figure 30: New cane-sugar-sweetened product count, by beverage segment, 2011
                                                                                                        • Stevia usage continues to rise in new beverage products
                                                                                                          • Figure 31: New stevia-sweetened NAB product count, 2006-11
                                                                                                          • Figure 32: New stevia-sweetened product count, by beverage segment, 2011
                                                                                                        • Sucralose use resurged in 2011
                                                                                                          • Figure 33: New sucralose-sweetened* product count, 2006-11
                                                                                                          • Figure 34: New sucralose-sweetened product count, by beverage segment, 2011
                                                                                                        • Aspartame use rebounds in 2011
                                                                                                          • Figure 35: New aspartame-sweetened product count, 2006-11
                                                                                                          • Figure 36: New aspartame-sweetened product count, by beverage segment, 2011
                                                                                                      • Non-alcoholic Beverage Consumption

                                                                                                        • Key points
                                                                                                          • Regular beverages more popular than diet
                                                                                                            • Figure 37: Incidence of buying regular (non-diet) or diet beverages for personal consumption, December 2011
                                                                                                            • Figure 38: Average volume consumption* of different types of regular beverage, December 2011
                                                                                                            • Figure 39: Average volume consumption* of different types of regular beverage, December 2011
                                                                                                          • Women more likely than men to buy diet beverages
                                                                                                            • Figure 40: Incidence of buying regular (non-diet) and diet beverages for personal consumption, by gender, December 2011
                                                                                                          • Incidence of buying diet beverages increases with age
                                                                                                            • Figure 41: Incidence of buying regular (non-diet) beverages for personal consumption, by age, December 2011
                                                                                                        • Preference for Regular and Diet Sweeteners in Beverages

                                                                                                          • Regular sweeteners: what buyers look for and what they avoid in regular drinks
                                                                                                            • Regular sugar more popular than high-fructose corn syrup
                                                                                                              • Figure 42: Sweeteners regular beverage buyers look for and avoid in regular NAB, by gender, December 2011
                                                                                                              • Figure 43: Sweeteners regular beverage buyers look for and avoid in regular NAB, by age, December 2011
                                                                                                            • Diet sweeteners: what buyers look for and what they avoid in diet drinks
                                                                                                              • Stevia is the most popular low-calorie natural sweetener
                                                                                                                • Splenda enjoys the highest popularity among non-nutritive sweeteners
                                                                                                                    • Figure 44: Sweeteners diet beverage buyers look for, avoid and unaware in diet NABs, December 2011
                                                                                                                    • Figure 45: Sweeteners diet beverage buyers look for in diet NABs, by gender, December 2011
                                                                                                                    • Figure 46: Sweeteners diet beverage buyers look for in diet NABs, by age, December 2011
                                                                                                                    • Figure 47: Sweeteners diet beverage buyers avoid in diet NABs, by gender, December 2011
                                                                                                                • Attitudes Toward Diet and Regular Sweeteners

                                                                                                                  • Key points
                                                                                                                    • Real sugar perceived better than high-fructose corn syrup
                                                                                                                      • High interest in lowering beverage calorie count without diet additives
                                                                                                                        • Beverage buyers cut down on regular beverage consumption rather than moving to diet beverages
                                                                                                                          • Low-calorie beverages with all-natural positioning have growth potential
                                                                                                                            • Beverage buyers associate artificial sweeteners with health risks
                                                                                                                              • Nearly a quarter of beverage buyers look for low glycemic index sweetener
                                                                                                                                • Figure 48: Attitudes toward diet beverages and sweeteners, December 2011
                                                                                                                                • Figure 49: Attitudes toward diet beverages and sweeteners, by gender, December 2011
                                                                                                                                • Figure 50: Attitudes toward diet beverages and sweeteners, by age, December 2011
                                                                                                                              • Attitudes toward stevia-based beverages
                                                                                                                                • Majority of beverage buyers have not tried stevia-based beverages
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 51: Attitudes toward stevia-based beverages, by gender, December 2011
                                                                                                                              • Attitudes Toward Diet Beverages

                                                                                                                                • Key points
                                                                                                                                  • More than half of NAB buyers find diet beverages taste worse than that of regular beverages
                                                                                                                                    • Diet beverages enjoy respectable acceptance among beverage buyers
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 52: Attitude toward diet beverages, by gender, December 2011
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 53: Attitude toward diet beverages, by age, December 2011
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 54: Attitude toward diet beverages, by household income, December 2011
                                                                                                                                  • Reasons for Purchasing Diet Beverages

                                                                                                                                    • Key points
                                                                                                                                      • Weight management prime motivation to buy diet beverages
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 55: Reasons for drinking diet beverages, by gender, December 2011
                                                                                                                                      • Adults aged 25-34 most likely to buy diet beverages for weight management
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 56: Reasons for drinking diet beverages, by age, December 2011
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 57: Reasons for drinking diet beverages, by household income, December 2011
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 58: Reasons for drinking diet beverages, by education, December 2011
                                                                                                                                    • Calorie Content and Packaging Size

                                                                                                                                      • Key points
                                                                                                                                        • Majority of NAB buyers likely to check calorie count on packaging
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 59: Incidence of checking sweetener type and calorie content on packaging before buying NAB, December 2011
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 60: Incidence of checking sweetener type and calorie content on packaging before buying NAB, by gender, December 2011
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 61: Incidence of checking sweetener type and calorie content on packaging before buying NAB, by age, December 2011
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 62: Incidence of checking sweetener type and calorie content on packaging before buying NAB, by household income, December 2011
                                                                                                                                        • Attitude toward calorie content and packaging size
                                                                                                                                          • Beverage buyers recognize food as a bigger contributor to obesity compared to beverages
                                                                                                                                            • Unawareness about serving size could be the cause of high sugar intake through beverages
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 63: Attitude toward calorie content and packaging size, December 2011
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 64: Attitude toward calorie content and packaging size, by gender, December 2011
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 65: Attitude toward calorie content and packaging size, by age, December 2011
                                                                                                                                          • Impact of Race/Hispanic Origin

                                                                                                                                            • Key points
                                                                                                                                              • Hispanics and blacks exhibit change in food preferences
                                                                                                                                                • Figure 66: Presently watching diet, by race/Hispanic origin, 2004/05 and 2010/11
                                                                                                                                                • Figure 67: Incidence of buying regular (non-diet) beverages for personal consumption, by race/Hispanic origin, December 2011
                                                                                                                                              • Blacks are less likely to buy diet beverages for taste
                                                                                                                                                • Figure 68: Reasons for drinking diet beverages, by race/Hispanic origin, December 2011
                                                                                                                                                • Figure 69: Attitude toward diet beverages, by race/Hispanic origin, December 2011
                                                                                                                                              • Beverage industry is likely losing black and Hispanic consumers
                                                                                                                                                • Figure 70: Attitude toward diet beverages and sweeteners, by race/Hispanic origin, December 2011
                                                                                                                                              • Hispanics are more likely to look for real sugar in beverages
                                                                                                                                                • Figure 71: Sweeteners regular beverage buyers look for and avoid in regular NAB, by race/Hispanic origin, December 2011
                                                                                                                                                • Figure 72: Sweeteners diet beverage buyers look for in diet NABs, by race/Hispanic origin, December 2011
                                                                                                                                                • Figure 73: Attitudes toward stevia-based beverages, by race/Hispanic origin, December 2011
                                                                                                                                              • Hispanics show high interest in looking for number of calories and sweetener type
                                                                                                                                                • Figure 74: Incidence of checking sweetener type and calorie content on packaging before buying NAB, by race/Hispanic origin, December 2011
                                                                                                                                            • Custom Consumer Groups

                                                                                                                                              • The quest for sugar-free foods increases with age; women more sensitive than men to sugar
                                                                                                                                                • Figure 75: Food that adults seek when watching diet, by age and gender, April 2010-June 2011
                                                                                                                                              • Diet beverage consumption high among men aged 55+ and women of all age groups
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 76: Incidence of buying regular (non-diet) beverages for personal consumption, by gender and age, December 2011
                                                                                                                                                • Women aged 18-34 more likely to drink diet beverages to manage calories
                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 77: Reasons for drinking diet beverages, by gender and age, December 2011
                                                                                                                                                  • Diet beverage taste more acceptable to men and women aged 55+
                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 78: Attitude toward diet beverages, by gender and age, December 2011
                                                                                                                                                  • Men and women aged 18-34 more resistant to non-nutritive sweeteners
                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 79: Attitude toward diet beverages and sweeteners, by gender and age, December 2011
                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 80: Sweeteners regular beverage buyers look for and avoid in regular NAB, by gender and age, December 2011
                                                                                                                                                  • Young adults aged 18-34 more interested in all-natural low-calorie sweeteners/sugar replacers
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 81: Sweeteners diet beverage buyers look for in diet NABs, by gender and age, December 2011
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 82: Attitudes toward stevia-based beverages, by gender and age, December 2011
                                                                                                                                                    • Women aged 55+ most proactive in checking calories and type of sweetener
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 83: Incidence of checking sweetener type and calorie content on packaging before buying NAB, by gender and age, December 2011
                                                                                                                                                    • Appendix: Other Useful Tables

                                                                                                                                                      • Reasons for drinking diet beverages
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 84: Reasons for drinking diet beverages, by presence of children in household, December 2011
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 85: Reasons for drinking diet beverages, by region, December 2011
                                                                                                                                                      • Preference for regular and diet sweeteners in beverages
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 86: Sweeteners regular beverage buyers look for and avoid in regular NAB, by household income, December 2011
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 87: Sweeteners regular beverage buyers look for and avoid in regular NAB, by presence of children in household, December 2011
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 88: Sweeteners regular beverage buyers look for and avoid in regular NAB, by region, December 2011
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 89: Sweeteners diet beverage buyers look for in diet NABs, by household income, December 2011
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 90: Sweeteners diet beverage buyers look for in diet NABs, by presence of children in household, December 2011
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 91: Sweeteners diet beverage buyers look for in diet NABs, by region, December 2011
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 92: Sweeteners diet beverage buyers avoid in diet NABs, by household income, December 2011
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 93: Sweeteners diet beverage buyers unaware of in diet NABs, by gender, December 2011
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 94: Sweeteners diet beverage buyers unaware of in diet NABs, by age, December 2011
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 95: Attitude toward diet beverages and sweeteners, by household income, December 2011
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 96: Attitudes toward stevia-based beverages, by age, December 2011
                                                                                                                                                      • Calorie content and packaging size
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 97: Incidence of checking sweetener type and calorie content on packaging before buying NAB, by presence of children in household, December 2011
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 98: Incidence of checking sweetener type and calorie content on packaging before buying NAB, by region, December 2011
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 99: Attitude toward calorie content and packaging size, by household income, December 2011
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 100: Attitude toward calorie content and packaging size, by presence of children in household, December 2011
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 101: Attitude toward calorie content and packaging size, by region, December 2011
                                                                                                                                                    • Appendix: Population Trends

                                                                                                                                                      • Kids aged 6-11 and teens aged 12-17
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 102: Kids and teens population, 2006-16
                                                                                                                                                      • Adults aged 18-34 are key consumers, but population trends indicate little growth
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 103: Population 18+, by age, 2006-16
                                                                                                                                                      • Hispanics and blacks
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 104: Population, by race and Hispanic origin, 2006-16
                                                                                                                                                      • Men are key beverage consumers; women key household beverage shoppers
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 105: Male population by age, 2006-16
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 106: Population by age, 2006-16
                                                                                                                                                    • Appendix—Trade Associations

                                                                                                                                                      Companies Covered

                                                                                                                                                      • American Beverage Association, The
                                                                                                                                                      • American Heart Association, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                      • American Medical Association (AMA)
                                                                                                                                                      • Cargill Incorporated
                                                                                                                                                      • Coca-Cola Company (The) (USA)
                                                                                                                                                      • ConAgra Foods, Inc
                                                                                                                                                      • Corn Refiners Association, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                      • Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                      • Food and Drug Administration
                                                                                                                                                      • General Mills Inc
                                                                                                                                                      • Johnson & Johnson
                                                                                                                                                      • Kellogg Company
                                                                                                                                                      • Kraft Foods Inc.
                                                                                                                                                      • McNeil Consumer Nutritionals UK Ltd
                                                                                                                                                      • Merisant
                                                                                                                                                      • National Soft Drink Association
                                                                                                                                                      • NutraSweet Company, The
                                                                                                                                                      • Nutrinova GmbH
                                                                                                                                                      • Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc
                                                                                                                                                      • PepsiCo Inc
                                                                                                                                                      • Starbucks Corporation
                                                                                                                                                      • Tate & Lyle
                                                                                                                                                      • The Kroger Co.
                                                                                                                                                      • U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
                                                                                                                                                      • U.S. Department of Agriculture
                                                                                                                                                      • Walmart Stores (USA)
                                                                                                                                                      • World Health Organization

                                                                                                                                                      Attitudes toward Beverage Sweeteners - US - March 2012

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