Finding the sweet spot for low sugar sports drinks25 Oct 2018
Demand for natural, low sugar sports drinks is increasing, raising opportunities for manufacturers to explore alternative ingredients and sweeteners that appeal to health-conscious consumers.
Across beverage categories, consumers are looking to cut sugar, leading to surging sales for bottled water and diet soft drinks in the past couple of years. Many of the best-selling sports drinks, however, are still loaded with sugar. While some sugar is needed for the transport of sodium and glucose to replace fluids and electrolytes after a hard workout, too much adds unnecessary calories and can affect digestion.
Coconut water contains about 2.5 grams of natural sugars per 100 mL, compared to the 6-8 grams of added sugars typical in many sports drinks. The beverage shook up the sports category a few years ago, as consumers realised they could have all the electrolytes and hydration of a traditional sports drink without the sugar (and calories). Since then, the sector has significantly revitalised its image. In 2016, 35% of new sports drinks carried a ‘natural’ or ‘low sugar’ claim, up six percentage points compared to a year earlier, according to market research organisation Mintel.
In a 2017 survey from DSM, 55% of global consumers said they always checked product labels for sugar content, while half of the 8,000 people surveyed said they would pay more for products that used “only natural sweeteners”. And according to a recent white paper from Kerry, consumers show a significant preference for sweeteners they perceive as natural, including honey, maple syrup, agave syrup and stevia. However, many of these are costly options for manufacturers, who need to strike a balance between reducing sugar and maintaining their cost competitiveness.
Sweetener companies have been quick to step up. Plant-based sweetener and flavour specialist Layn, for example, has promoted its monk fruit and stevia sweeteners specifically for use in sports drinks. It says the plant-derived sweeteners can work synergistically in sports beverages, allowing a deep sugar reduction with a more sugar-like taste profile. As in other applications, the two sweeteners can be combined in proportions that enhance the best of each sweetening compound. Avoiding bitterness can be a particular challenge for sports beverages, and Layn says a combination of stevia and monk fruit can help reduce bitter notes.
Meanwhile, Mintel notes that water is still chosen more often than sports drinks for rehydration after exercise, and about as often as sports drinks by those looking to improve their sports performance. The market researcher suggests the sector could do more to reach everyday exercisers by blurring the category boundaries it shares with water, botanical ingredients and fruit juice, and playing up a ‘better for you’ marketing angle.
Stevia outpaces aspartame in new product launches
27 Nov 2018
The number of new stevia-sweetened foods and drinks overtook new products with aspartame in 2017, according to global data from Innova Market Insights.Read more
Nuts gain from awareness of healthy fats
19 Nov 2018
Demand for products containing nuts is on the rise, aided by ongoing research into their health benefits and growing consumer understanding of healthy fats.Read more
Cranberries show promise for improved gut health
19 Nov 2018
Researchers are just beginning to understand the link between the gut and many chronic health conditions, leading to growing interest in prebiotic ingredients. According to a new study, cranberries are the latest food to show prebiotic potential.Read more
Egg substitutes driven by vegan, allergen-free demand
13 Nov 2018
Egg replacers have long been used as a way to avoid to the price fluctuations often associated with real eggs, but recently interest has been driven by manufacturer demand for clean label and plant-based ingredients, allowing companies to make more veg...Read more
Whey protein on the rise across food categories
13 Nov 2018
Whey protein remains the most popular protein ingredient for athletes by far, but numerous whey protein ingredients have emerged over the past few years, in applications that take it well beyond sports nutrition.Read more
Could regulation tempt the industry to renew focus on low fat foods?
7 Nov 2018
The UK government aims to cut calories by 20% by 2024 in a range of popular foods, potentially shifting focus back onto foods’ fat content as companies strive to reach this target.Read more
Allergen-free foods gain momentum
5 Nov 2018
Launches of allergen-free foods have increased in recent years – and not just because of increased prevalence of food allergy.Read more
Enzyme technology slashes sugar in fruit juice
2 Nov 2018
Israeli researchers have developed a new technology to cut sugar by up to 80% in fruit juice, by using enzymes that boost the fibre content at the same time.Read more
What can blockchain do for the food industry?
1 Nov 2018
International food companies have started to embrace blockchain technology to help trace food and ingredients all along the supply chain. What are the potential benefits for the industry?Read more
The mainstreaming of meat alternatives
26 Oct 2018
Tofu and lentils still have their place in a vegetarian diet, but a new generation of meat alternatives makes it easier than ever for consumers to switch to plant-based options – even the most enthusiastic meat eaters.Read more
Are you a supplier
Here's what we can do for you
- Generate quality leads for your business
- Stay visible for 365 days of the year
- Receive product inquiries and respond to meeting requests directly
- Improve company online presence through Search Engine Optimisation