Neilsen: Substitutes Are Bright Spot In Sweetener Category

Sept. 24, 2018

The continued shift toward healthier eating has certainly affected the U.S. sugar and sweetener market. Sales across the sweetener category are down year-over year, particularly for sugar. And as summer comes to a close, the last week of August has been no exception to the slowdown in sugar. According to Nielsen’s Friday morning data for the week ended Aug. 31, 2018, weekly sales of sugar are down 11% in dollars and 9% in units. 

Yet even as the category sales have dropped, some natural sweeteners have found sweet success at the tail end of the summer. 


Over the past few years, consumer demand has shifted away from sugar and other traditional sweetening agents. As a whole, the sugar and sweetener category is down in both dollar (-2.1%) and unit (-3%) sales compared to a year ago as of the week ended July 28, 2018. In fact, the overall category has been on the decline over the past four years. Both dollar sales (-4.5%) and unit volume consumption (-4.1%) of sugar are down year-over-year, with a declining compounded annual dollar growth rate of 1.7% over the past three years. And sales of sugar substitutes like sucralose, saccharin, aspartame and even agave continue to fall as well. 

With the rising popularity of low-glycemic, Whole 30 and Ketogenic lifestyles, many consumers are literally taking a measured approach to monitoring their sugar consumption levels. And that means they are being extremely conscious of sugar claims on products.  

In fact, we’re seeing that many shoppers are already adjusting their taste buds to do away with sweetness all together. Products with no added sugar are fueling growth across the store and within many different categories and departments. Liquid coffee with no added sugar is up 55%, and granola bars with no added sugar are up 35%. Across the store, products dropping the added sugar are winning sales. 

Full release.