The global high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) market size was valued at USD 9,104.18 million in 2021. It is expected to reach USD 10,614.46 million by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 1.72% during the forecast period (2022–2030). High fructose corn syrup has replaced sucrose in the food and beverage sector. Wet milling, a method, is used to create it from corn syrup as a liquid sweetener. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) holds a 10% market share for sweeteners worldwide. Regarding composition or metabolism, HFCS is comparable to other glucose sweeteners like honey, sucrose, and fruit juice concentrates and typically contains 42% to 55% fructose. It is simple to transport and handle HFCS because it has improved stability and works well in acidic beverages that are available in liquid form. Since fructose is sweeter than glucose, it has become more popular as a cheaper substitute. This characteristic has significantly increased the use of fructose in food processing.
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Strategic Investments by Market Players
North America and Europe are the two continents that produce the most goods, including sweeteners made from corn starches. The total amount of corn starch produced in Europe from EU maize (corn) grain was 4.42 million metric tons in 2018, up from 3.89 million metric tons in 2014, according to the European Starch Industry Association. Many corn starch manufacturers have been investing in the global corn starch and sweeteners market to support the economy and community of their country of origin while positioning the company for long-term growth. To almost double its production capacity, for instance, Cargill Incorporated invested USD 240 million in India in 2017 by partnering with two regional businesses in South India, one in each Karnataka and one in Andhra Pradesh. Additionally, the business installed a contemporary silo to hold 60,000 metric tons of corn at its Davangere plant the same year.
Growing Consumer Preference for Processed Food and Convenience
One of the key factors propelling the growth of the high-fructose corn syrup market is the rising demand for convenience and processed foods, such as sweet/sugar-based ready-to-eat foods, ready-to-drink beverages, snacks, and frozen meals. The developed and developing regions of the world are experiencing an increase in the demand for processed and packaged foods, which may increase the need for food packaging and sugar processing solutions, driving the demand for high-fructose corn syrup in food and beverage applications globally. These factors include rising urbanization, an expanding middle class, an increase in the number of working women, and rising disposable income. High fructose corn syrup has a broader range of uses than cane sugar because its sweetness is like cane sugar’s but has unique characteristics. It is widely used in food, dairy products, beverages, tobacco, cold drinks, fruit juice, preserved fruit and wines, healthy foods, seasoning for the home, and everyday chemicals.
Implications of High-Fructose Corn Syrup on Health
Over the past few decades, more packaged foods have started to contain high fructose corn syrup. It is less expensive, sweeter, and more quickly absorbed by the body than regular sugar. Although fructose is present in fruit, it is a naturally occurring sugar and does not have the same adverse effects as high fructose corn syrup. Fruit contains various healing nutrients, including fiber, vitamins, and minerals. So, fructose should not be a problem unless one eats a lot of fruit. More than 40% of the caloric sweeteners added to foods and beverages are made of high-fructose corn syrup. As a result, consumers avoid packaged foods marked as containing "high-fructose corn syrup" or the new term corn sugar.
Rising Demand for Organic High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
There is a rising demand for goods made using procedures that follow good manufacturing practices (GMPs) and ingredients that consumers can comprehend. Increasing transparency and traceability of ingredients through product labeling are market characteristics. As a result, ingredients made from raw materials that are naturally occurring and organically grown are strongly preferred. Although there is an absence of knowledge about organic HFCS, few businesses have taken the initiative to sell these versions of the sweetener. However, the benefits of organic HFCS have been mentioned in multiple studies from universities like Baumen College and organizations like the Organic Consumers Association. This expands the potential for well-known businesses to invest more in organic HFCS and create a product that consumers will buy.
Growing Demand for Clean Label High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
A "clean label" purchasing environment is gradually developing as the global high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) market works to reduce the number of delicate ingredients in food products. Although not subject to government regulation, the phrase "clean label" is increasingly used in the industry to refer to goods free of ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors and sweeteners, and other delicate ingredients. The market for clean-label high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has been flooded by significant players from the ingredients business, such as Cargill.
HFCS is a cheap, simple-to-produce, and beneficial sweetener. Due to the global rise in obesity and consumer awareness of HFCS's extensive use in various foods, HFCS initially served manufacturers well but eventually came under fire. Some consumer groups have swiftly rejected its use for all these reasons. A wider variety of sweeteners appropriate for snacks and baked goods—and current perceptions of a "clean" label—have emerged in recent years to compete for a place in formulations. In order to replace this outdated powerhouse sweetener, ingredient manufacturers have been racing to develop new sweeteners that are tasty, healthy, and practical as consumer needs shift, developers scramble to meet those needs, and manufacturers look to control costs.
The global high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) market is segmented by application.
Based on application, the global high-fructose corn syrup market is bifurcated into food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, and animal feed.
The food and beverage segment owns the highest market share and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 1.61% during the forecast period. The food and beverage are divided into the bakery, confectionery, dairy and desserts, and beverages. Drinks frequently contain high-fructose corn sugar because it enhances stability and shelf life while serving as an easy dispersant to maximize sweetness. Additionally, there has been a significant rise in fruit drinks with added sugar, soft drinks, colas, and other sweetened carbonated beverages. Manufacturers operating in the market are employing various strategies, including new product launches, partnerships, and expansions, to stay competitive and serve a wide range of players. The segmental growth is driven by beverage companies like Coca-Cola expanding their presence throughout the Asia-Pacific region. For instance, Coca-Cola China increased its beverage production in 2017 by 18% over 2016 and nearly twice as much as it had in 2012. High-fructose corn syrup consumption has skyrocketed alongside this rise because of its ability to provide the illusion of more sweetness in beverages.
High-fructose corn syrup's usefulness as a humectant, bulk sweetener, and carbohydrate source, among other things, is anticipated to fuel market expansion over the forecast period. Additionally, when compared to granulated sugar, the ingredient's greater diffusibility encouraged the use of the product in various oral dosages for sweetening. Furthermore, pharmaceutical products must adhere to IP/BP/USP grade hygiene, and the grade varies depending on the country from which the product is produced. There is much room for improvement in the ability of high-fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners to disguise the flavor of the medicinally active ingredient without affecting the product's efficacy. The ingredient is primarily aimed at OTC products made for kids, typically containing a consistent amount of sweetener. However, the product's long-term growth will probably be constrained by the adverse effects of high-fructose corn syrup on obesity and other medical issues.
By region, the global high-fructose corn syrup (HFSC) market is segmented into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, South America, and the Middle East and Africa.
North America Dominates the Global Market
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North America is the most significant shareholder in the global high-fructose corn syrup (HFSC) market and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 0.51% during the forecast period. The widespread use of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) sweetener in the confectionery, bakery, and beverage industries, particularly in the production of soft drinks, has significantly increased demand for it across the nation. According to the USDA, the domestic production of HFCS in the nation has grown significantly over the previous 20 years. 8.3 million metric tons of HFCS were produced in the nation in 2017. The nation has increased its HFCS importation from other nations to meet domestic demand. Manufacturers have launched an effective advertising campaign under the auspices of the Corn Refiners Association to convince the public that HFCS is safe. Additionally, HFCS was categorized by the Food and Drug Administration as "generally recognized as safe." The HFCS 42 (used in beverages, processed foods, cereals, and baked goods), HFCS 55 and HFCS 65 (used in soft drinks), and HFCS 70 are the most widely used types of HFCS in the country (used in filling jellies).
Asia-Pacific is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.03%, generating USD 3,222.81 million during the forecast period. Corn syrup is increasingly popular in China because it is less expensive than natural sugar generated from sugarcane or sugar beets by around one-third. According to the China Sugar Association, this makes up about 20% of the demand for sweeteners. Additionally, Coca-Cola, one of the top brands in the nation for carbonated drinks, increased the use of HFCS in its products by an undisclosed amount in 2016, which increased demand in the nation. Additionally, the government's reform in the country's corn industry to take advantage of the high corn production led to an increase in the supply of high-fructose corn syrup at a lower price in 2017, which boosted the lucrative sweetener market in the region. Industry experts also claim that using HFCS has several other benefits. It promotes controlled browning in baked goods and breakfast cereals, aids in the preservation of texture in canned and baked goods, maintains stability in temperature changes and mixes well with other ingredients. However, HFCS is a synthetic sweetener because its production involves numerous processing steps.
In Europe, FDA defines "natural" as free of synthetic, artificial, and color additives and is typical food and drink ingredient. HFCS dissolves easily in water, can be easily flavored, and gives foods and drinks a fruity taste. France's baking and alcoholic beverage industries make it a top market for food sweeteners. HFCS is used in canned fruit, jam, dry fruit, fruit juices, fruit wine, pastries, bread, yogurt, breakfast cereals, dairy products, oral liquids, cold drinks, French sauces, condiments, and salad dressings. Milk consumption has decreased while soda, cola, and fruit drinks with added sugar have increased, especially among young people. Changing drinking habits has coincided with increased lifestyle diseases like obesity and diabetes. Too much sugar or artificial sweeteners has changed consumers' interest in functional beverages.
HFCS is a popular sweetener and additive in South American soft drinks, fruit juices, yogurt, and bread. Brazil still prefers refined sugar. Rising disposable income is expected to increase the demand during the forecast period. HFCS lowers the freezing point of food, maintains moisture in bran cereals and breakfast bars, improves the flavor of fruits and spices, and encourages surface browning. Unlike in the US and Mexico, sugar is used to make ethanol in Brazil. In Brazil, most sugar-to-corn price ratios are under 1, while in the US, they are over 5. It is obvious why Brazil would choose sugar over corn to make ethanol and why almost all sweeteners are made from sugar.
In the Middle East and Africa, Arabians have adopted western consumption patterns and diets due to high disposable income and a large population. The region's hot climate increases people's consumption of carbonated drinks and other fortified sweetened beverages, driving national demand for HFCS. Pepsi and Coca-Cola are the largest consumers of HFCS in the country. Arab consumers' love of bakery goods has increased demand for HFCS, a fermentable sugar, sweetener, and humectant. It ferments in bread, buns, rolls, and yeast-raised donuts, reducing costs and increasing profits. Cargill Inc.'s strategic expansion plan boosted food and beverage producers' profits. In addition, players also use product innovation to expand the market.
The global high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) market manufacturers