The use of artificial sweeteners in food and drink products could rise as soaring sugar prices make aspartame and sucralose an attractive alternative.

Global sugar prices have increased 14% over the past 12 months [Mintec], driven by a combination of crop failures and demand from emerging markets.

Earlier this week, sugar analyst Czarnikow cut its global production forecast for 2010/11 by 3.8 million tonnes to 165 million tonnes. In the UK, production is expected to be down by as much as 30%.

High sugar prices had already led to it being substituted for corn-based alternatives in Mexico and China, said Leonardo Bichara, senior economist at the International Sugar Organisation. In the EU, low-calorie, high-intensity sweeteners were on the rise, he added.

Tate & Lyle VP of sucralose product management and speciality food ingredients Craig Donaldson recently highlighted the use of "custom blends" of sweeteners as a way of producing products "without the risk of increasing manufacturing costs that would occur using sugar."

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Commodity crunch: the raw materials to watch in 2011 (analysis; 15 January 2011)