Spotlight on Salt, Fat and Sugar Reduction22 Oct 2013
Watching the obesity rate tick slowly upward year by year, it becomes apparent that consumers struggle with controlling their weight. The health consequences of obesity, and the direct impact it has on health care costs, has seen government and health authorities continue to place pressure on food manufacturers to take action against obesity and help […]
Watching the obesity rate tick slowly upward year by year, it becomes apparent that consumers struggle with controlling their weight. The health consequences of obesity, and the direct impact it has on health care costs, has seen government and health authorities continue to place pressure on food manufacturers to take action against obesity and help consumers make responsible dietary decisions. Consequently, sugar and fat reduction continue to be top priorities for food and drink manufactures in an attempt to lower the calorie load from sugar and fat, as excessive intakes of both nutrients contribute to weight gain.
Reducing the fat content of products presents challenges, from both a taste and functionality point of view. Fat not only adds energy-dense calories, but it contributes important sensory benefits to food and drink formulations, from the perception of mouth-feel, taste and aroma. When fat is removed from a formulation, these sensory attributes are compromised and in the UK, almost a quarter of consumers believe that taste is compromised in low fat products. The ‘naturalness’ of reduced fat formulations can also suffer, as, in place of fat, functional additives such as sweeteners and bulking agents have to be included to compensate for the loss of taste and texture. Reducing the sugar content of food and drink products presents similar challenges, with sugar adding both bulk and flavour. High intensity sweeteners offer sweetness without the calories; however, their typically artificial nature can put some consumers off, with the general shift away from synthetic food additives as well as their ‘artificial’ taste. However, the growing popularity of the naturally-derived high intensity sweetener stevia provides a low/no calorie natural alternative to sugar – but, as the artificial variants struggle to satisfy on a taste front, stevia has so far struggled with similar issues.
Attention has also been given to reducing the sodium and salt content across food and drink products. With the high amount of salt hidden in processed foods, our taste buds have been trained to expect and crave salty food, contributing to most individuals exceeding their daily sodium intake. Most food manufacturers have employed a gradual and stealthy approach to sodium reduction, to allow the taste buds of consumers to slowly adapt over time to less salty products. However, sodium-reduced products are often rejected on their actual or perceived taste, as they compete with and are compared to their higher-sodium equivalents. A range of different strategies have been employed to reduce the sodium content across processed foods, with salt alternatives and flavour enhancers all essential tools in the ‘sodium reduction toolbox’. A recent study examined whether the distribution of salt in snack foods altered the perception of saltiness. The results showed that a heterogeneous salt distribution better masked reduced sodium products than a homogeneous distribution, supporting a random distribution of salt when designing low-salt foods. At present, a multi-pronged approach to sodium reduction is required to tackle the current problems to overcome a range of issues from taste and acceptance of products, to food safety and food quality.
Sugar, salt and fat reduction will continue to be a research priority for food and drink manufacturers in an attempt to help tackle the obesity epidemic: however, considerable work to replicate the taste and appeal of these products is still required.
What role do omega-3s play in sports nutrition?
10 Jul 2018
Omega-3 fatty acids have increasingly become part of athletes’ nutritional regime over the past few years but research supporting their role in sports nutrition is still in its early stages.Read more
Could nature-identical ingredients damage the natural sweeteners market?
4 Jul 2018
Natural sweeteners are a major target for companies looking to make nature-identical food ingredients, but if they are produced in a lab rather than extracted from a plant, will consumers accept them as natural?Read more
How does honey compare to sugar?
27 Jun 2018
Sugar use is down and honey use is up as manufacturers look for natural sweetening alternatives – but does honey live up to the hype?Read more
Fruit and vegetable powders add clean label nutrition, colour and flavour
25 Jun 2018
Fruit and vegetable powders are appearing in a range of foods and drinks to improve their flavour, colour, nutrition and texture, driven by the trend toward whole foods and consumer desire to boost fruit and vegetable consumption.Read more
What are the smartest botanical ingredients for brain health?
20 Jun 2018
As the population ages, botanical ingredients to maintain and improve cognitive health are on the rise. What are they, and what evidence is there to support their claims?Read more
Turning a spotlight on healthy fats and oils
19 Jun 2018
European food manufacturers have been turning to healthier oils and fats – but there is often a trade-off to be made, balancing their benefits in terms of flavour and health with how easy they are to work with.Read more
Beyond ingredients: Food processing as a tool for cleaner labels
12 Jun 2018
Ingredients come first when companies think about developing clean label foods and drinks, but certain processing technologies also should be considered part of the clean label toolbox.Read more
Plant-based eating boosts European walnut demand
12 Jun 2018
The current trend toward plant-based diets and wholesome, natural ingredients has led to increased European demand for walnuts, as consumers have become more aware of their health benefits.Read more
Europeans embrace a new wave of seaweed ingredients
6 Jun 2018
Seaweed ingredients are on the rise, set to appear in a wide range of new products in Europe in the coming years – far beyond the traditional sushi and miso soup.Read more
How clean label ingredients affect packaging
28 May 2018
When companies consider ‘cleaning up’ their product labels, they often focus primarily on how to remove or replace certain ingredients – but they should also consider implications for product packaging.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