Sorbitol, also known as glucitol, is a sugar alcohol with a sweet taste which the human body metabolizes slowly. Sorbital is mainly derived from corn, cassava, seaweed, fruits and berries. It can also be synthesised through catalytic hydrogenation of D-glucose to produce D-sorbitol.
Sorbitol is a sugar substitute. It has approximately sixty percent (60%) the sweetness of sucrose (table sugar). It is referred to as a nutritive sweetener because it provides dietary energy. It is often used in diet foods (including diet drinks and ice cream), mints, cough syrups, and sugar-free chewing gum.
It also occurs naturally in many stone fruits and berries from trees of the genus Sorbus. Sorbitol often is used in modern cosmetics as a humectant and thickener. It is often is used in mouthwash and toothpaste. Some transparent gels can be made only with Sorbitol. It is also used as a humectant in some cigarettes.
Sorbitol sometimes is used as a sweetener and humectant in cookies and other foods that are not identified as "dietary" items. It is identified as a potential key chemical intermediate for production of fuels from biomass resources.
Most Sorbitol is made from corn syrup, but it is also found in apples, pears, peaches, and prunes. It can also be produced from cassava tubers.
Sorbitol is an important sweetener in the food, confectionery and pharmaceutical industries. Currently, local production cannot meet the demand, hence, the local requirement is being met through importation.
The global sorbitol market size was valued at USD 1.47 billion in 2020 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of six point five percent (6.5%) from 2021 to 2028. The market is expected to witness significant growth over the forecast period owing to the rising usage of diabetic and dietetic food and beverages.
The growing product demand as a substitute for sugar in consumer food products is also expected to drive demand for the product over the next few years. Sorbitol is also increasingly being used in oral care products as it is metabolized at a slower rate as compared to other sugar alcohols, preventing dental problems such as cavities and tooth decay. The benefits of the same are expected to propel industry growth.
There is high demand for sweeteners in Nigeria. Sugar holds the majority share of the sweetener industry in Nigeria comprising about eighty-three percent to eighty-five percent (83% to 85%) of the market share. Other common sweeteners include sugar alcohol, Fructose, or fruit sugar, High fructose corn syrup, Honey, Sucrose, Syrup and Unrefined sweetener.
With a population of over two hundred million (200,000,000) people and an estimated national population growth rate of five point seven percent (5.7%) per annum, Nigeria has a large market for sweeteners.
Annual demand for sugar in Nigeria is estimated at three million, five hundred thousand (3,500,000) tonnes per annum but only two million, four hundred thousand (2,400,000) tonnes is produced locally while an annual demand of one hundred and seventy (170,000) tons exists for high fructose syrup and sixty thousand (60,000) tons/year for glucose.
Nigeria is importing over sixteen thousand (16,000) tons of sorbitol per year mostly as raw material for toothpaste production. The above indicates an existing, expanding and sustainable market for sweeteners in Nigeria.