Pet Owners Beware: Xylitol Use Will Grow Significantly in the Next Four Years

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A recent rash of accidental dog poisonings have been attributed to the low-calorie sweetener xylitol.

The sweetener is most commonly found is sugar free gum and candies, but sweeping health concerns and concerted effort to stymie the growth of diabetes has resulted in increased use of xylitol as a sugar replacement in many different products. 

Xylitol-sweetened peanut butter was a main culprit in many of the accidental poisonings, reports The BarkAccording to the Wall Street Journal, the substance is more than 100 times more harmful to dogs than milk chocolate.

JoAnna Lou writes that symptoms, including weakness, lethargy, loss of coordination, seizures, vomiting, and rapid breathing can show up in dogs within 10 minutes of ingesting, and even small amounts can cause hypoglycemia and liver failure.

“Xylitol is being included in some specialty brands of peanut butter. This is alarming because many people use peanut butter to fill Kongs or to make dog treats…It’s important to note that xylitol can be listed on labels as sugar alcohols, which encompasses many different sugar alcohols, including xylitol,” writes Lou.

Technavio expects the global xylitol market to grow from 180.4 thousand metric tons in 2015 to 252.1 thousand metric tons in 2020, as food and confectionery product manufacturers look for safe (for humans), healthy, and economic sugar replacements.

Global xylitol market by application 2015

Source: Technavio, 2015

Health concerns driving xylitol growth

Skyrocketing diabetes worldwide has created an upswing in demand for natural sweeteners. Additionally, growing rates of high cholesterol, cardiovascular issues, and obesity have also raised consumer awareness about calorie intake, leading many to swap sugar-filled snacks for low- or no-calorie versions.

Prevalence of diabetes cases worldwide 2000-2030 (in units)

Source: Technavio, 2015

Xylitol has roughly the same sweetness as table sugar, with about 33% fewer calories, and a much lower glycemic index, which means it won’t spike blood sugar and is a suitable substitute for those with diabetes.

The Americas is the leading producer and consumer of xylitol in the global sweetener market. The market in this region has seen a spike in demand for convenience food, functional food, and alternative sugar sources over the past few years.

But customer preferences are now also turning to naturally derived sweeteners over synthetics like aspartame and sucralose, which will continue to drive demand for xylitol over the projected period.

While this might (artificial sweeteners have been scorned by many health professional, but that’s a whole other blog) be a good thing for waistlines worldwide, it also means that pet owners will have to be a lot more vigilant, as we see xylitol pop up in more and more products through 2020.