High fructose corn syrup is used in place of sucrose in the foods and beverages industry. It is derived as a liquid sweetener from corn syrup using a process called wet milling. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) accounts for a share of 9% in the global sweeteners market.
HFCS is not much different from other fructose glucose sweeteners such as honey, sucrose, and fruit juice concentrates in terms of composition or metabolism. It is generally composed of 42% to 55% fructose. HFCS exhibits better stability and works well in acidic beverages that are available in liquid state. This ensures easy transport and handling of HFCS. Also it renders the substance better miscibility than granulated sucrose.
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Fructose has emerged as a more cost-effective alternative to glucose, since it is sweeter than the latter. Owing to this attribute the use of fructose has significantly increased in food processing. However, on the flip side, calorie content of fructose is equivalent to sugar. Manufacturers operating in either the sugar or fructose industry therefore share similar concerns. Additionally, the human body metabolizes fructose in a much different way than it does glucose. Thus the consumption of HFCS is also associated with the increasing prevalence of obesity worldwide.
Owing to the benefits offered over granulated sucrose, the use of HFCS has proliferated across the U.S. food industry at a robust pace. Some of the benefits of using HFCS include: easy handling, easy to supply and good for stability. Corn is a reliable crop and is grown abundantly across the U.S., while the production of sucrose is limited. The U.S. therefore imports major supplies from sugar-growing countries. Thus the supply of essential commodities in the country is vulnerable to political and economic conditions prevalent in exporting nations. Also because of its liquid form HFCS is considered more stable for use in acidic beverages. Additionally, it is easier to handle, transport, and mix compared to granulated sucrose.
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Global high fructose corn syrup market is gaining impetus from the increasing demand for sweetener in the food and beverages industry. HFCS 42 has emerged as a good alternative to sugar and honey in food preparation for those who are trying to avoid sucrose due to its side effects. HFCS 42 constitutes approximately 42% fructose, while sugar has around 50% fructose, and the presence of fructose in honey is around 48%. This is a key factor driving the global HFCS market.
However, the changing lifestyle and growing health concerns among consumers of emerging nations are limiting the market’s growth to an extent. This is because high consumption of fructose is often related to the prevalence of obesity and diabetes. Hence, zero calorie sweeteners have become much popular among consumers.
Nevertheless, after being granted the “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS) status by the U.S. FDA, HFCS is widely used across the U.S. food industry mainly due to the advantages it offers over granulated sucrose.
Some of the most prominent enterprises operating in the global high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) market are Cargill Inc., Archer Daniels Midland Company, INGREDION INCORPORATED, Tate & Lyle and others.