Taking an innovative approach to sugar reduction13 Jan 2020
The trend toward lower sugar products continues to grow – but manufacturers should be aware of the limits on consumer acceptance of reduced sugar foods and drinks.
It is generally true that consumers are looking to lower their sugar intake, but some food and drink categories remain challenging. Indulgent foods like chocolate, baked goods and ice cream, for instance, tend to be more appealing in their full-fat, full-sugar forms, even if healthier versions are available and taste good. According to research from Mintel, 53% of UK consumers agree that reduced sugar chocolate feels less of a treat than regular chocolate.
On the other hand, ‘no added sugar’ claims are growing rapidly in categories like breakfast cereals, where such claims on new launches were up from 6% in the year to August 2014, to 17% in the year to August 2019. Mintel says the trend for lower sugar is likely to continue, whether overtly in categories like soft drinks, or covertly in categories like sauces and yoghurts.
There is a broad range of solutions available to manufacturers looking to cut the sugar content of foods and drinks, from ingredients like sweeteners and fibres to more holistic approaches, such as cutting the amount of sugar gradually over time so that consumers become used to a less sweet taste, or changing the colour of a product or packaging to take advantage of the psychological connotations of different colours. Researchers have found that red is closely associated with sweetness, for example, and foods that are coloured red or served in red packaging may actually be perceived as sweeter.
However, as the market has matured for reduced sugar foods and drinks, innovative solutions continue to emerge. The Israeli firm Better Juice, for example, has developed an enzymatic approach to cut the natural sugars in fruit juice. This could be used in fruit juice sold directly to consumers, but more likely in fruit juice and concentrates used as ingredients in other products, such as in ice cream or yoghurt. The company says it can cut the natural sugars in orange juice by 30% to 80% by converting them into prebiotic fibres and other sugars.
Also using enzymes to cut sugar, companies like Novozymes and DSM are promoting lactase for its ability to break lactose into glucose and galactose in dairy products. Because glucose is sweeter than lactose, this can allow for a sugar reduction of 20-50% without the need for any additional ingredients.
Meanwhile, US-based Mycotechnology has developed a fermentation technology that can consume bitter compounds associated with natural sweeteners like stevia and monk fruit. It suggests that this could allow companies to omit masking ingredients in naturally sweetened, low-calorie products, leading to cleaner labels.
Amai Proteins is another Israeli company eyeing the sugar reduction trend. It makes designer sweet proteins that contribute zero calories and work well in industrial foods and beverages. This means they are heat-, pH- and shelf-stable, low cost and have a sweetness profile comparable to sugar. The ingredients are still being trialled with manufacturers, but once scaled up to commercial levels of production, the company claims they will be 90% cheaper in use than sugar.
There is still plenty of room for innovation in the sugar reduction sector, especially considering that sweetness is something that consumers are hardwired to crave – and researchers continue to reveal the harmful effects of excessive sugar consumption.
As pressure on manufacturers intensifies to cut sugar in their products, less obvious strategies may help make sugar reduction appealing to consumers even in more indulgent food categories.
C3 on its recent MENA expansion: ‘The region is a hub of tech and culinary innovation’
16 Jul 2021
Omnichannel food tech platform Creating Culinary Communities (C3) is bringing its cloud kitchen and food delivery tech to the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region, announcing a $100 million joint venture in Saudi Arabia just months after expanding to...Read more
Oat milk start-up Bevry on India’s plant-based potential
12 Jul 2021
In this article Pradeep Sanker, co-founder of oat milk start-up Bevry, known as ‘the Oatly of India’ talks about challenges and opportunities in India’s plant-based dairy market.Read more
Small changes to health claim wording have a big impact on EU consumer engagement
28 Jun 2021
An EU-backed study is revealing small changes manufacturers can make to the wording of on-pack health claims to make them more understandable and engaging to consumers, all while respecting the health claim regulation.Read more
CBD’s health halo will drive 2022 growth despite COVID-19 setbacks
14 Jun 2021
Despite CBD being an indisputably on-trend ingredient, the US CBD market was not immune to the negative economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, particularly due to nationwide store closures, new consumer priorities, and CBD price drops.Read more
Lidl Cheddar cheese shows rising popularity of carbon neutral food
31 May 2021
Hard discounter Lidl will launch a carbon-neutral Cheddar cheese in UK stores before the end of the year. Are carbon neutral products the next big thing in sustainable food?Read more
Access in the spotlight this World Hunger Day
21 May 2021
The Hunger Project has made huge progress in reducing global hunger, but Covid-19 has worsened poverty and limited food availability in many communities. This World Hunger Day, the focus is on access – to food, but also to essential resources like educ...Read more
US sugary drinks tax could be on the cards
17 May 2021
A federal excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages could be on the cards in the US as a Democrat lawmaker announces plans to resurrect the SWEET Act, which proposes a tiered tax.Read more
Brazilian regulators open the door to supplement and probiotic innovation
1 Feb 2021
Health claim approvals for dietary supplements and probiotics in Brazil are opening the door to market innovation, says one expert – but more work is needed to ensure full consumer transparency.Read more
Singapore start-up ‘makes bad carbs good’ with plant-based fibre blends
25 Jan 2021
Alchemy Fibre makes plant-based fibre blends that lower the glycaemic index (GI) of refined carbohydrates without altering their taste, texture or colour.Read more
Is it time European policymakers define what ‘natural’ food is?
18 Jan 2021
Consumers are being misled over products that claim to be natural but contain artificial ingredients. Is it time for a legal definition?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