Demand for natural additives drives growth

By Freddie Dawson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food additive Food standards agency

Consumer demand for 'natural' products is influencing additives usage
Consumer demand for 'natural' products is influencing additives usage
Food manufacturers continue to turn away from artificial sweeteners and preservatives in favour of ‘natural’ flavours, and healthy and functional additives, a new report from Leatherhead Food Research (LFR) has claimed.

The report, The global food additives market, ​revealed growing demand for additives such as emulsifiers, hydrocolloids, acidulants and enzymes driven by increasing consumer preference for low-fat, salt and sugar products as well as ‘functional health benefit’ products.

The global additives sector grew by 4%, reaching $27.4bn last year with health and natural additives compensating for the decline in demand for artificial sweeteners and preservatives.

Growth in the sector had been slowed by the global downturn. But a fall in demand in developed countries had been offset by rising demand in regions such as Latin America and Asia-Pacific.

Food safety concerns

Jonathan Thomas, principal market analyst at LFR and author of the report, told “The growth in natural additives mirrors the growth in demand for natural food and drinks. Consumers are turning away from products containing artificial ingredients and additives, for reasons of health and food safety.

“One such example is the ‘Southampton Six’ study of 2007 ​[research by Southampton University into the link between six artificial colours as well as one preservative and hyperactivity in children], which has led to a drastic drop in usage of artificial food colourings such as tartrazine by food and drink manufacturers.

“Many are now responding to these trends by marketing their products on a ‘natural’ platform – a trend that is expected to continue.”

Our sister publication reported on Tuesday that EU Member States had voted to restrict the use of one of the Southampton six, Sunset Yellow (E 110). The decision followed an earlier report into the effects of E110 by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Yesterday (September 15), the Food Standards Agency (FSA) issued guidance on how manufacturers could remove artificial additives from food. The guidance said: “Some manufacturers and retailers have already taken action to remove these colours. The Agency is encouraging others to work towards finding alternatives, and to voluntarily withdraw these colours as requested by UK ministers and the FSA in 2008.”

Growth sectors

Relatively high growth levels are forecast over the next few years for: functional dairy products (probiotic yogurts and yogurt drinks and fortified milk); healthy breakfast cereals (oat-based cereals and products with a high wholegrain content); healthy snacks (cereal and energy bars, cereal-based snacks, fruit-based snacks); and healthy confectionery (additive-free sweets and low-sugar/sugar-free products).

“The health and wellness trend is also expected to drive the beverages industry to a significant degree,” ​said the report. “Future growth levels are forecast to be highest in sectors such as fruit-based drinks (eg fruit juice and nectars); sports and energy drinks (for which the consumer base is widening in many parts of the world); fortified/functional bottled waters (which are now featuring a wider range of additional ingredients); and various dairy drinks, all of which are generally perceived as offering a healthier alternative to carbonated beverages such as cola.”

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