Sorbitol is a sugar polyhydroxyl alcohol having natural existence in certain fruits. It can also be synthetically prepared from glucose and it is commercially available in liquid and crystal form. It caters to a range of end user industries such personal care & cosmetics, food & beverages, chemicals and pharmaceuticals owing to the different properties that fulfill the product production demands. Its applications are found in various consumer oriented markets such as oral care, nutrition, health foods and surfactants. Sorbitol has been majorly used as feedstock for production of vitamin C. This has seen a decline in recent times with over production of vitamin C in the market, leading to increased application in other segments. Sorbitol is a natural sweetener with low calories and relative less sweet taste. Thus, it is a useful ingredient in dietary food & beverages and as an effective sugar substitute for diabetic population, helping in its market expansion. Increased health awareness and sugar substitution in this context is expected to drive sorbitol market growth. Its nutrition values, healing and stabilizing properties have resulted in increased application in food and personal care products segments. However, sorbitol market growth is facing restrains from uncertain raw material supply and resultant price fluctuations, forcing manufacturers to shift their production facilities to economical areas of Asia Pacific.
Sorbitol is available in liquid and crystal form for use. Liquid form is obtained by processing dextrose that is obtained from corn starch. Since crystal form is obtained by spray drying liquid sorbitol, it incurs added cost to the production process.
Vitamin c production is a key application for the sorbitol market. However, with overproduction of vitamin C, this application is witnessing slow growth. As sorbitol is metabolized at a slower rate as compared to other sugar alcohols, it is effective in prevention of dental problems such as cavity and tooth decay. This has resulted in its increased use as a key ingredient in oral care products. A natural sweetener with low caloric values, sorbitol is finding increased use in diabetic and dietary food products and beverages. Another application of sorbitol is as surfactants in the form of foaming & wetting agents, emulsifiers, dispersants, detergents, etc.
End User Insights
The global sorbitol market has unutilized potential as a chemical intermediate for production of several other products. Its use in food segment as low calorie sweetener and preservative has increased over the last few years. Surface active and stabilizing softening properties of sorbitol have found growing use in personal care products. Major pharmaceutical use involves sorbitol as laxative and excipient agent.
Downstream Opportunity Insights
Sorbitol has a similar product base as polyols, therefore they are potential chemical platforms for renewable production of these substances. It is a feasible environmental friendly alternative. Erthylene glycol, propylene glycol, glycerol and isosorbide are few materials that have undergone processes of being manufactured from sorbitol.
China is a leading producer of vitamin C. Consequently, it also accounts for a major portion of sorbitol consumption as input for its production. However, with overproduction of vitamin C, the growth rate of this market consumption has become stagnant, leading to its increased use in other segments. Europe and the U.S. are other major regions in the sorbitol market, owing to their well established and dynamic personal care and food & beverages industries. These segments are also responsible sorbitol market growth in Latin America and Middle East and Africa regions. Substitution of sorbitol in food products and stoppage in production of vitamin c has resulted in its low consumption in regions such as Japan.
Key participants in sorbitol market include American International Foods, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Cargill Incorporated, Daisco, Gulshan Polyols Ltd., Merck, Ecogreen Oleochemicals Gmbh, Quinhuangdao Lihua Starch Company Ltd., Roquette Freres, Sigma-Aldrich, Spi Pharma, Sorini and Tereos Syral. The trend of shifting production capacities to Asia Pacific regions due to low production and labor costs is expected to be key for sorbitol market development over the next six years.