Read our overview of glucose – an industrial sugar popular in various sectors. Discover production methods and different types available on the market. Learn about glucose’s many applications and a list of its characteristics. Dive into the global market insights and see what are the projections for the future.
Glucose, also called dextrose, is a simple sugar, a type of carbohydrate described as a monosaccharide in chemical terms. Commercial glucose is produced by enzymatic or acid hydrolysis of starch from plants such as maize, barley, rice, potato, or wheat. The starch is dissolved in water and then hydrolyzed into a syrup. It can be later dried to a crystalline or granulated powder. The production process involving hydrolysis results in removing all gluten from the raw material, making the final product gluten-free. In the Americas, glucose is mainly manufactured from corn, while in Europe it is more common to use wheat and potatoes. In the African region, cassava flour is a popular ingredient in glucose production.
Glucose syrup is a refined and highly concentrated form of industrial glucose. The product is a clear solution, and it is characterized by high transparency and viscosity. Glucose syrup does not have a distinct taste, and it is less sweet than fructose or sucrose. The syrup is the most popular form used in the food and beverage sector.
Dextrose monohydrate, also known as d-glucose, is a type of glucose that contains only d-form isomers. In commercial terms, dextrose and glucose are used interchangeably, as their chemical structure is almost identical. The monohydrate form of dextrose is a pure, crystallized powder of white color. It has a high solubility rate in water, medium-to-low solubility in ethanol, and it is hardly soluble in other solvents.
Anhydrous glucose is a purified, highly hygroscopic form of glucose powder with a very low water content, making it a highly stable ingredient. The product is obtained by crystallizing glucose at over 55 °C. Anhydrous glucose is sweeter than dextrose monohydrate. It easily absorbs moisture and improves the fluffiness of the product.
All forms of industrial glucose have similar applications in the food and feed industries. In food production, glucose is used to obtain desired physical properties of the final product. It improves viscosity, increases sweetness, and serves as a flavor enhancer. It has a weaker sweetening power than other sugars such as sucrose, but it has a higher water solubility rate. The product also serves as a preservative in jarred and canned items.
Glucose is widely used in the confectionery sector as an ingredient in candies, ice cream, desserts, creams, jellies, jams as well as in a range of beverages and flavored drinks. It is also applied in the bakery sector due to its role in the Maillard reaction in the preparation of buns, bread, biscuits, and pastries. In the processing of fruits and vegetables, the powdered form of glucose prolongs the freshness and extends the shelf life of the products.
In sports nutrition, glucose is a popular ingredient of beverages and tablets for post-workout supplementation and energy boosts. Moreover, glucose is used in the pharmaceutical sector as an ingredient of salts and IV fluids to help the patients restore glucose levels, nutrients, electrolytes, and supply calories.
In the feed industry, it is used as a nutritional supplement and energy source in various forage mixes. It also enhances the flavor and palatability of the final product. Glucose is commonly used in other sectors as well, including cosmetics, personal care, makeup, and paper industries.
In 2020, the value of the global glucose market was estimated at $42.9 billion, up from $3.1 billion in the previous year. The expected value for 2021 is projected at $44.9 billion. The Asia Pacific region dominated the global market in terms of revenue, owing 38.7% in 2020. The Middle East & Africa region ranked second due to the development of tourism and increasing demand for food and beverages offered in countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. On the European scene, the key players are the UK, Germany, and Italy. European consumers are increasingly health-oriented and tend to search for organic and sustainable choices. Within the American market, the U.S. leads the way as the demand for sugar goods perseveres.
Based on the form, the glucose syrup dominated the market with 72.1% of the global revenue in 2020 and is expected to prevail in the upcoming years. Regarding the application, the food and beverages sector accounted for 53.4% share of the global revenue in 2020. The second highest-grossing area was pharmaceuticals, followed by cosmetic and personal use products.
Within the next five years, the global glucose market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 3.5%. Asia Pacific region is expected to develop at the highest pace due to the availability of the raw material as well as expanding convenience and pharmaceutical sectors. The growth pace for the market has been revised after the pandemic has slowed the market due to the disruptions in supply chains caused by lockdowns. Manufacturers have also been facing high volatility in raw material prices, especially for corn. The market is influenced by governmental health programs aiming at fighting obesity, diabetes, and heart diseases. Such programs promote health-oriented diets and encourage the reduction of the intake of added sugars. In view of the changing consumer behaviors, industrial sugar producers are therefore turning to different solutions such as clean-label items, non-GMO materials, and vegan options to satisfy the demand.