Sorbitol is one of the sugar alcohols that are found naturally, which is metabolized slowly as compared to other dietary sugars. Most of the oral care products comprise of sorbitol which acts as a vital ingredient preventing dental cavities. Sorbitol is one of the basic raw materials required in production of Vitamin C and surfactants.
Sorbitol is commercially available in liquid/syrup and crystal/powder form. Liquid sorbitol is manufactured from the purification, hydrogenation and purification process of dextrose that is obtained from wet milling process of corn starch. Crystal sorbitol is acquired after spray drying of liquid sorbitol and incurs certain added cost. Sorbitol is relatively less sweet in comparison to other sugar alcohols, as a result of which it finds growing applications in cosmetic and personal care, chemical, pharmaceutical and the food & beverage industry. The rising diabetic and dietetic population, growing awareness in context to health concerns and better sugar alternatives are some of the primary driving forces boosting the market growth of sorbitol. The market is however restrained by fluctuating raw material prices and side effects caused by sorbitol on its excessive consumption.
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Use of sorbitol was dominated by North America and Europe in the earlier stages, however owing to the tight raw material situation and high production costs, manufacturing is being increasingly shifted to the more profitable and viable Asia Pacific region. Asia Pacific sorbitol demand is dominated by four countries including China, Japan, India and Indonesia. China has emerged as a key consumer and producer of Vitamin C, which requires sorbitol as one of its raw materials. North America sorbitol consumption is mainly dominated by the U.S. followed by Canada and Mexico. In the European region; Germany, the U.K., France and Russia accounted for 69.1% of the total demand in 2011.
Increasing sorbitol application as a low calorie sweetener is expected to drive demand over the next five years. Sorbitol inhibits the formation of acids that results in dental cavities/carries. The relative low sweetness makes sorbitol a preferential choice amongst the diabetic patients, allowing them to experience the taste of sugar. The consumption of sorbitol by diabetic patients not only allows them to enjoy the sweetness of sugar but also assists them in controlling their weight and related dietary illnesses. The growing population of the health conscious people is in turn fuelling the demand for sorbitol. Sorbitol is also an excellent non-stimulant laxative which eases bowel movements. It is commonly prescribed by medical practitioners especially to elderly people suffering from gastric disorders. It has good humectant and plasticizing properties that makes it a preferable constituent in most of the cosmetic and personal care products.
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Some key participants in this market include Roquette Freres, Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Sorini, and SPI Pharma. Sorbitol manufacturing capacities are increasingly being shifted in Asia Pacific, a prime example being Roquette Freres, which established its plants in Asia Pacific, a trend subsequently followed by ADM and Cargill.
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