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Though the continued medical evidence and media coverage over sugar’s link to obesity and weight related illnesses have significantly affected categories such as carbonated soft drinks, global sales of table top sugars and sweeteners have held up in 2014.

The reason for the growth is that while health messages have clearly affected European and Latin American markets, this has been more than offset by strong growth across Asia, and in particular India, China and Indonesia. Another notable trend has been the relative lack of traction from the “natural” non-nutritive sweeteners.

Even though the news that table top sugar sales have held up in the last year will undoubtedly be welcomed by sugar producers, the market continues to be very difficult. The health debate means demand for sugar as a general food sweetener has softened, and global prices are further weakened as a lack of clarity remains over the future of sugar production in Europe in the run up to deregulation at the end of 2016. In addition, sucralose prices also remain weak as the market is over supplied following production capacity growth in China at the end of 2013. Weak sugar and sucralose prices have resulted in profit warnings from a number of key sugar producers in the past year.

As with sugar, growth is strongest in emerging markets as table sauces prove an affordable treat to help improve the flavour of meals for many poorer families. Though the largest markets and heaviest users continue to be in Europe and North America, in terms of value growth over the last five years, nine out of the top 10 fastest growing countries come from Asia, Latin America or Africa.

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