Today's article is an observation from Symrise's visit to Ingredient Marketplace in New York City on June 2nd, 2014.

Today's consumer is much more health-conscious than the consumer of yesteryear. With the rising number of Americans diagnosed with diabetes and heart disease, not to mention the country's struggle with obesity, consumers are taking a good hard look at the foods they are eating. And the number one culprit they're targeting—processed sugar.

In June 2014, David Sprinkle, research director at Packaged Facts, presented at the Ingredient Marketplace (marketplace.supplysideshow.com/) in New York City, offering the latest trends and innovations in sweeteners. Sprinkle pointed out that consumers are looking to make healthier purchases, and have specific concerns about added sugars, as well as processed table sugars.

When it comes to purchasing sugar, "consumers now look for keywords like organic, raw, and environmentally-friendly. They are looking for that story," he said. When it comes down to sugar, the cane and brown varieties—usually marketed as raw or organic—are selected over white granulated sugar.

What else is currently trending?

Although sugar is still topping the sales charts, the numbers are quickly decreasing. "Sugar and sugar substitutes are on the decline. The appeal of natural has gotten the attention of consumers," said Sprinkle, with natural sweeteners like monk fruit, agave and stevia becoming a popular alternative. "Honey is big; in fact, it's the only sweetener that is growing in sales," Sprinkle reports.

"Hybrid products are on the rise, with flavor blends becoming really popular," said Sprinkle. "Honey is the hot new sweetener, so companies are creating blends like honey-sour cherry and honey-blueberry. Agave is also popular and it's relatively easy to add flavors to, like making a cinnamon-agave combo. In short, sweetener products are becoming flavor products."

High-intensity and natural sweeteners are focused on innovative packaging as well as convenience for consumers. "For example, companies have created honey crystals so there's no gooey mess and easy to carry on the go."

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