Credit Suisse’s Research Institute has issued a September 2013 report titled Sugar Consumption at a Crossroads that examines the world sweetener market as well as the latest research on the health effects of sugar and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Noting that soft drinks have drawn the most attention from legislators, regulators and consumer groups, the report summarizes the medical consensus on the role of increased sugar consumption in chronic disease and chronicles those issues still open for debate.
The report also describes how the increased focus on the health effects of excess sugar consumption will affect food and beverage companies, the sugar industry as a whole, individual producers of artificial and natural sweeteners, and the health care industry. In particular, Credit Suisse expects companies in the beverage industry "to react to the growing public concern and the threat of taxes on sugary drinks by moving as fast as they can to self-regulate," while the impact on the food industry "should be minimal as they do not suffer from the same negative image as the beverage industry, they are more difficult to regulate and they are less affected by the biomedical issues linked to sugary beverages." In addition, the report identifies the following "actionable responses" currently available to manufacturers: (i) "increase availability of the zero-calorie version in every region and country"; (ii) "promote the marketing of ‘diet’ drinks more than full-calorie drinks"; (iii) "gradually reduce the calorie content of the full calorie version"; (iv) "improve and make more visible the labeling of the sugar content of drinks"; (v) "replace sugar and artificial, intense sweeteners with natural, low- or zero-calorie sweeteners"; (vi) "expand portfolios to offer alternative drinks"; and (vii) "launch public initiatives and campaigns to foster a healthier and more active way of life."
"Although a major consumer shift away from sugar and [HFCS] may be some years away, and outright taxation and regulation a delicate process, there is now a trend developing," states Credit Suisse, which prepared the report for investors and analysts. "From the expansion of ‘high-intensity’ natural sweeteners to an increase in social responsibility messages from the beverage manufacturers, we see green shoots for dietary changes and social health advancement."