Ahmedabad, May 19 The latest World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations against the use of non-sugar sweeteners (NSS) will not impact India’s market leader ‘Sugar Free’, the makers of the brand have said.

During an earnings call for Zydus Lifesciences on Thursday, Managing Director, Sharvil Patel, said it was “early” to comment on the impact on ‘Sugar Free,’ which is manufactured and marketed by Zydus Wellness Ltd, the company’s wellness and OTC subsidiary.

“It is early to answer this. I think it (the recommendation) doesn’t say not to use them. It (the WHO) has come out with some findings... I don’t see an immediate impact,” said Patel responding to analysts, and further adding, “We have our plans to counter that.”

On May 15, WHO released guidelines recommending against the use of NSS to control body weight or reduce the risk of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).

The recommendation is based on the findings of a systematic review of the available evidence which suggests that use of NSS does not confer any long-term benefit in reducing body fat in adults or children, a WHO statement said.

It further added that the results of the review also suggest that there may be potential undesirable effects from long-term use of NSS, such as increased risk of type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and mortality in adults.

In India, the NSS segment is dominated by Zydus’ Sugar Free brand that enjoys over 95 per cent market share and holds “the potential to be amongst the top three global brands,” ZWL said in its investor presentation for fiscal 2023. According to industry estimates, the NSS market in India is worth Rs 800-1,000 crore, featuring brands such as Sugar Free, Splenda and Equal.

On its website, ZWL describes Sugar Free as “a name synonymous with the sugar substitute category” and “a low-calorie sweetener, safe for consumption and an ideal replacement for sugar for the calorie conscious, weight watchers and diabetics.”

“The idea behind Sugar Free is to replace sugar, maintain the sweetness you desire in your desserts and beverages, with Zero Sugar Calories!”

According to the WHO findings, the common NSS include acesulfame K, aspartame, advantame, cyclamates, neotame, saccharin, sucralose, stevia and stevia derivatives.

The WHO recommendation was for all except those with pre-existing diabetes and it included all synthetic and naturally occurring or modified non-nutritive sweeteners not classified as sugars, found in manufactured foods and beverages, or sold on their own, to be added to foods and beverages by consumers. It, however, did not apply to personal care, hygiene products containing NSS such as toothpaste, skin cream and medications, or to low-calorie sugars and sugar alcohols.