Richemont’s (TSE:RCHM) (NYSE:RCHM) (FRANKFURT:RCH)—the company behind the ever-popular chocolate-covered espresso beans—recently released its annual report for 2019 and it was a heart-warming read for anyone who cares about the future of artificial sweeteners. In it, the Swiss company shared how the introduction of stevia sweetener in the U.S. helped to reverse declining sales that had been hurting the company for years. Sales in North America grew by 29% in the first year after launch, compared to the previous year, and revenue increased by 12% in 2020 as a whole.
This growth came even as consumer demand decreased in other parts of the world where the sweetener was already available. In Europe, for example, the company’s sales declined by 2% in 2019 and 13% in 2020. But in North America, Europe’s biggest market, the company saw growth.
New Products For Old Markets
Like many companies, Richemont launched new products and enhanced existing ones to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic. The company’s stevia-based zero-calorie drinks were a hit and helped to reverse declining sales, especially in China and Russia where customers had been shunning sweeteners.
And then there was the Bitter Truth, Richemont’s newest product launch. First designed for use in Italy, the drink is made with whiskey from Tennessee and the company’s signature espresso essence, and it will be available in all of its favorite markets including the U.S. and Europe next year.
While there are worries about the future of artificial sweeteners, especially as a result of the pandemic, Richemont’s CEO believes the products are here to stay. And he couldn’t be more right. According to IMS Health, the sweetener market is expected to grow from 2025 to 2025 by more than 5% annually.
For years, the market share for artificial sweeteners has been dominated by a few big brands (Nestle, Purina, and Roquefort, to name a few). But now that Richemont and others are putting out new and improved versions of these products, it may be a long time before these older brands can keep up.
Artificial sweeteners have been around for more than 100 years, but it’s only been in the past few decades that their popularity has risen significantly. In fact, in 1900 only 2.3% of the diet drinks sold in the U.S. were sweetened with artificial substances.
You’d think that with the abundance of sugar alternatives available today, people would be cutting back on their sugar intake. But that’s not the case, as some studies show that artificial sweeteners may have some dangerous health effects.
So, while some consumers may opt for a no-sugar diet in the near future, that may not be the case for everyone. Especially since artificial sweeteners can be significantly less expensive than buying sugar on a weekly basis.
A healthy diet isn’t the only area of growth for Richemont. Last year, the company also saw sales increase by 12% in its Animal Food business, a segment that includes pet food and treats, as well as fish food and treats. These were all areas that the company saw growth in during the pandemic as people were looking for ways to be a little more self-sufficient in the kitchen.
And then there’s the company’s Drinks business, which includes soft drinks and sparkling wines as well as beer and other alcoholic beverages. This market has also seen significant growth during the pandemic, as people are looking for ways to quench their thirst while also avoiding restaurants and other public places where they might contract the virus.
It’s been an interesting year for Richemont. But it’s also been an interesting decade, as the company’s total sales have increased by more than 300%. And while some might see that as a problem, the company’s CEO sees it as an opportunity, especially now that they’re in a position to expand into new industries and new markets.