Capri Sun adds monk fruit to US juice drinks to reduce sugar by 40%

15 Aug 2022

With parents increasingly focusing on reducing their children’s sugar intake, Kraft Heinz is using monk fruit to cut sugar in US Capri Sun products to deliver on both taste and health credentials.

The impact of sugar and artificial sweeteners on the health of children has had much attention in recent years. Concerns around sugar consumption have prompted several US cities to adopt a 'soda tax'. This locally levied tax makes distributors of sugar-sweetened drinks pay on the drinks they distribute within cities like Boulder, Philadelphia, Seattle and San Francisco. Recent updates made by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now require manufacturers to list added sugars in grams and as a percent Daily Value (%DV) on nutrition fact labels. As a result, interest in natural sweeteners is growing and monk fruit is becoming a popular natural alternative for manufacturers, according to Mintel. Monk fruit is said to have a similar flavour to sugar but without the bitter aftertaste of stevia.

Capri Sun adds monk fruit to US juice drinks to reduce sugar by 40%
Image credit: PR Newswire

Capri Sun, a key brand under the Kraft Heinz Company, has spent a number of years perfecting this new reformulation.

“Reducing sugar is a key aspiration for Kraft Heinz and has been a long-time goal of Capri Sun. We heard from our consumers that sugar content is a pain point and did extensive testing to find a way to reduce the added sugar naturally while maintaining the great taste consumers and kids know and love,” said a Kraft Heinz spokesperson.

By August this year, each pouch of original juice drink in the US will include monk fruit concentrate and contain around 8g of total sugars and 5g of added sugar. Additionally, new packaging will highlight the sugar reduction in all original juice drinks. The sugar-reduced Capri Sun will be rolled out in the US only, said Kraft Heinz.

A costly natural sweetener

Monk fruit (also known as luo han guo) is part of the melon family and native to China. Its fruit pulp contains compounds called mogroside V which are around 250 times sweeter than table sugar (sucrose) making it a desirable ingredient for food and drink products linked to naturalness and health. However, its high cost compared to other natural sweeteners creates a barrier for growth. Currently, it is not approved in Europe and use is rare but slowly growing in the US, China, Australia, Mexico and Japan with only 1% of product launches using monk fruit as a sweetener ingredient between June 2020 – May 2021. In Canada, monk fruit extract is only approved as tabletop sweetener. Monk fruit juice concentrate however, the ingredient used in Capri Sun, is permitted due to its lower mogroside V content.

Linked to health, plant-based and free-from

Although the number of food and drink products containing monk fruit is relatively small, according to Mintel data, those already on the market tend to be linked to health and diet trends such as free-from and plant-based. The fruit itself has been shown to have antioxidative, liver-protective and glucose-lowering properties. In a 2020 study from the Journal of Dairy Science, researchers developed a yoghurt using monk fruit extract as a sweetener. They found it had similar microstructural properties to yoghurt sweetened with sugar and results indicated monk fruit extract could be used successfully as novel sweetener and a food antioxidant for functional yoghurt and related products.

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