Industry News | June 26, 2008

Harris Interactive Releases Study on Sweeteners

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Most people don’t stop to think about what type of sweeteners they use and what the differences between them might mean for their overall well-being. The debate between sugar and the blue, yellow, and pink packets is ongoing, and the question is: how important are these differences to people? As a new Harris Poll of 2,602 U.S. adults surveyed online between May 5 and 12, 2008, by Harris Interactive shows, Americans are split on the importance of knowing what sweeteners are used, and a majority do believe artificial sweeteners are only somewhat or not at all safe. Specifically:

• Half of Americans (50 percent) say it is extremely or very important to know what sweeteners are used when they are purchasing food and beverages while half (50 percent) say it is only somewhat or not at all important. Just under one-quarter of U.S. adults (22 percent) believe it is extremely important to know this information;

• Three in five Americans (61 percent) believe artificial sweeteners are only somewhat or not at all safe while one in five (21 percent) say they are extremely or very safe and just under one in five (18 percent) are not at all sure about the safety of these sweeteners.

While Americans may not believe these artificial sweeteners are completely safe, there is no level of concern over them at the moment:

• Just one quarter of Americans (23 percent) say they are extremely or very concerned about the amount of artificial sweeteners they and their family consume, with just one in ten (9 percent) extremely concerned;

• Over three-quarters (77 percent) are only somewhat or not at all concerned about the amount of artificial sweeteners consumed, with over one-third (36 percent) not at all concerned.

There is a generational difference on attitudes towards artificial sweeteners. Specifically:

• The older generations are more likely to want to know what is sweetening their food. Three in five (59 percent) Matures (those aged 63 and older) say it is extremely or very important to know versus two-thirds (65 percent) of Echo Boomers (those aged 18-31) who say it is somewhat or not at all important to know what is sweetening their food;

• Matures are also most likely to believe artificial sweeteners are safe. Three in ten (29 percent) of the oldest generation believe they are extremely or very safe compared to one in five (22 percent) Baby Boomers (those aged 44-62), 20 percent of Generation X (those aged 32-43), and just 13 percent of Echo Boomers.

At the moment, Americans are divided on the importance of knowing about their sweeteners and lean towards thinking artificial ones are not that safe. As more information about the different artificial sweeteners comes out, people may start to become more concerned, and we might see some shift in those numbers. But, for now, there are no worries about using the pink, blue, or yellow packets.