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.
Scouting out the latest health trends and innovations at Vitafoods Europe
20 May 2022
From mood, cognition, and gut health to the importance of selling experiences rather than products, the Healthy Marketing Team (HMT) rounds up the biggest trends it spotted at Vitafoods Europe last week.Read more
Nutrition warning labels prompt reformulation – but this could counteract the policy’s health purpose, warn researchers
19 May 2022
Consumers avoid products with nutrition warning labels, a new Chilean study has found, in turn prompting manufacturers to "bunch" calorie and sugar levels just below health-minded thresholds – counteracting the good intentions of health...Read more
Food companies weather the ‘perfect storm’ of supply chain disruptions
17 May 2022
From inflation and rising costs to shipping delays and raw material shortages, food manufacturers and suppliers are battling a perfect storm of supply chain disruptions.Read more
Plants and microalgae spur new omega-3 formulations
13 May 2022
With health and environmental awareness high among consumers, omega-3 producers are exploring the use of plant-based and microalgae ingredients to appeal to consumers’ nutritional needs.Read more
How massive parallel sequencing amplifies ingredient transparency
11 May 2022
Food manufacturers are using massive parallel sequencing techniques to build transparency and trust with consumers by confirming the authenticity of ingredients and the absence of harmful bacteria.Read more
Opportunities in organic as UK consumers buy local, online & ‘box schemes’
10 May 2022
Despite its challenges, the Covid-19 pandemic has driven opportunity in UK organic food and drink, prompting more local and online purchases, including of ‘box schemes’ which often incorporate organic produce, according to UK organic certif...Read more
France allows labelling flexibility as food brands find sunflower oil substitutes
5 May 2022
French authorities have temporarily allowed food manufacturers to use alternatives to sunflower oil without changing their products labelling, following shortages caused by the war in Ukraine.Read more
‘Taste-adjusting’ chopsticks use electricity to give sensation of enhanced salt
2 May 2022
Japanese food company Kirin Holdings and researchers have created chopsticks that use an electrical current to give the perception of added saltiness in food by approximately 1.5 times its actual salt content. They are now working to roll out the techn...Read more
The Grain Drain: Ukraine war disrupts US grain and oilseed market
29 Apr 2022
“The war in Ukraine has seemingly changed everything,” says RaboResearch in a report that explores the grain and oilseed outlook in the US over the next ten years and the expected impact on fertilisers, production, exports and pricing.Read more
Food prices hit all time high as cost of cereal and vegetable oils spike
28 Apr 2022
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Food Price Index rocketed to an all-time high in March, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine spurs supply shortages and drives-up cereal and vegetable oil prices.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