Sweetener Prices

The data below shows the relative sweetener prices compared to sugar. Note that these are based on commodity prices, the prices manufacturers of processed foods and beverages are required to pay. Much of the data is based on years 2012 and 2013, however it gives a very good indication of current situation.

Intense Sweetener Prices

The above graph shows the intense sweetener bulk price compared to ordinary sugar (beet or cane). These are prices on the world market. 

Note how cheap the artificial sweeteners are. In many cases they are 4% or less the cost of sugar and in some cases down to almost 1%.  Obviously this represents a huge saving to the food manufacturers, particularly the producers of diet soda drinks. It is interesting to note that the savings do not appear to be passed on to the consumer, diet drinks are usually the same price as the 'full fat' sugar varieties!!

Sweetener Price relative to Sugar
Neotame 0.01
Saccharin 0.02
Acesulfame K 0.04
Cyclamate 0.06
Aspartame 0.08
Sucralose 0.15
Glycyrrhizin 0.25
Stevia 0.36
Luo Han Guo 0.72
Sucrose 1.0

Neotame is by far the cheapest sweetener, being about 1% the cost of sugar per unit of sweetness. Good old saccharin is still dirt cheap while the most expensive, Luo Han Guo extract (Monk Fruit) is still significantly cheaper than sugar.

So it's not only your health the producers have in mind when they offer low calorie products, even the 'natural' ones with stevia extract. They are also looking towards the next quarterly earnings report for the shareholders!


Other Sweetener Prices

Again commodity price on the world market compared to ordinary sugar. In this case the graph had to be drawn on a completely different vertical scale to make it fit on the page. This is because, for an equivalent measure, these sweeteners are much more expensive than the intense or artificial ones.

Sweetener Price relative to Sugar
HFCS 42 0.46
HFCS 55 0.69
Maltitol 0.72
Xylitol 0.82
Sucrose 1.0
Sorbitol 1.08
Maltose Syrup 1.43
Mannitol 3.38
Honey 3.84
Erythritol 6.65
Isomalt 7.89

Of these sweeteners high fructose corn syrup (HFCS both 42 and 55) are the cheapest, about half the price of sugar. The sugar alcohols (polyols) are comparable to sugar with the exception of erythritol, which is far more expensive. 

People who pay for Xylitol in health food shops will be amazed to see that it is cheaper than sugar - but it is. Remember these are bulk and commodity prices not prices to the consumer.

Honey is about 4 times the price of sugar, with specialist varieties such as Ulmo or Manuka being even higher.

Isomalt, and artificial sugar alcohol is the dearest on the list. It is a specialist sweetener, usually used in cake decorations.

Sources:  alibaba.com



Is any of this of interest? Actually it is. At the present time sugar holds about 83% of the entire world market, though it is certainly not the cheapest. In fact modern techniques have driven down the cost of sugar production. Obviously, if other sweeteners, such as Monk Fruit, Stevia or Erythritol became more popular, the cost per unit could fall could fall in the bulk market, and even faster in the comsumer market.

Another issue is sustainability. Sugar cane is also produced to provide ethanol. This puts upward pressure on sugar prices, and also pressure on land available for food production. If sugar can be replaced as a sweetener by cheaper, or more efficient sources, this could have positive ecological implications - all other things being equal!

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