What you need to know

More consumers eating, cooking and drinking at home led to sugar/sweetener sales growth of nearly 20%. This boosted the category over the $5 billion mark, led by growth in honey, syrup and sugar, and even 11% growth in the much-maligned sugar substitutes segment. Going forward, the impact of the pandemic will likely motivate consumers to factor health even more into their dietary choices, benefiting the expansion of natural sugar alternatives and more-nutritive sweetening options in the coming years. Growing interest in cleaner sweeteners and distrust of artificial sweeteners will likely accelerate this shift.

Key issues covered in this Report

  • The impact of COVID-19 on sugar and alternative sweetener consumption and sales

  • Consumer perceptions of sugar/sweetener intake

  • Types of sweeteners used and ways they are consumed

  • Consumer attitudes toward sugars and alternative sweeteners


This Report builds on the tabletop sweetener analysis presented in Mintel’s Sugar and Alternative Sweeteners – US, December 2018, Sugar and Sweeteners – US, December 2016, Sugar and Alternative Sweeteners – US, May 2015, and Sugar and Sweeteners – US, September 2014, as well as the 2013 and 2012 Reports of the same title.

For the purposes of this Report, Mintel has used the following definitions for tabletop sweeteners:

  • Sugar (white granulated, brown and powdered)

  • Table syrup and molasses

  • Sugar substitutes, such as Splenda, Sweet’N Low, Equal, Truvia, etc

  • Honey

The following categories are excluded from this Report:

  • Chocolate and other dessert syrups.

COVID-19: Market context

The first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the US in January 2020. On March 11, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global health pandemic, and on March 13, President Trump declared a national emergency in the US.

Across the US, state-level stay-at-home orders rolled out throughout the months of March and April, remaining in place through May, and in some cases June. During this time, referred to as lockdown, nonessential businesses and school districts across the nation closed or shifted to remote operations.

Although all 50 states have relaxed stay-at-home orders and allowed businesses to operate with varying levels of social distancing measures in place, some rolled back to varying levels of restrictions to address the continued spread of infections. Mintel anticipates the US will remain in a state of flux through 2021, when vaccinations are more progressed and the virus is under more control.

Economic and other assumptions

The analysis provided reflects an estimated range of the market’s prospects in light of the upheaval caused by the COVID-19 crisis. Our economic assumptions are based on CBO 10-year economic projections released on July 2, 2020.

  • Unemployment will remain at 10.6% in 2020 before incrementally improving over the next five years.

  • US GDP will decline 5.8% in 2020 and increase 4% in 2021, followed by continuous increases until 2025.

  • Consumer confidence stands at 81.2 as of October 28, 2020. This is a 9.4-point improvement from its low of 71.8 in April, indicating that consumer confidence is on an upswing and could improve throughout the rest of the year.

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