The rise of coconut sugar

The rise in the number of coconut-based products available may not be new, but coconut sugar is set to become this year’s trendy natural sweetener in Germany.

With growing awareness of the negative impact refined sugar can have on consumers’ health, an increasing number are seeking healthier sweetener options, according to research firm Mintel. Since health is often equated with naturalness, consumers are opting for natural sugar substitutes, such as honey, agave nectar or stevia.

Naturalness stands out as one of the most important criteria affecting sugar purchases in Germany. A 2015 Mintel survey found that over one-third of Germans named naturalness as an important factor when buying sugar and sweeteners.

Coconut sugar, also called coconut palm sugar, is a natural unrefined sugar made from the sap of the coconut tree flower blossoms and is often promoted as being more nutritious and lower on the glycaemic index than regular sugar.

Although coconut sugar can’t be hailed as a nutritional superfood, Mintel says the product still has an opportunity to satisfy German consumers’ interest in natural and unprocessed ingredients. In addition, coconut sugar is often marketed as being more ecologically friendly than regular cane sugar, therefore appealing to the growing ranks of green consumers.

The growing popularity of natural sugar alternatives also means coconut sugar is increasingly being used as an ingredient in chocolate confectionery, bakery, snacks and breakfast cereals.

Since more and more consumers are focusing on positive nutrition and turning to whole, ‘real’ foods and ingredients, Mintel believes there are significant opportunities for natural nutritive sweeteners such as coconut palm sugar to capture a share of the market by appealing to diet-conscious consumers looking for healthier natural sugar substitutes.

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