Focus: Ingredients firm Kerry offers insights on its major sugar reduction application series
Irish-based ingredients group Kerry has delivered an “Innovative Taste for a Better Life and Planet” life cycle assessment of its Tastesense Sweet sugar reduction system that it is targeting a number of markets with, including confectionery and bakery ranges, as the company discusses
Targeting sugar reduction within the food and drink sector has become a notably topical challenge, especially in the wake of the Public Health England drive encouraging manufacturers to deliver 20% cuts over the past few years – which were largely unsuccessful.
However, as Confectionery Production has covered over the past year, there has been continued movement on the issue within the sector, as demand for healthier, or better-for-you options continues to grow amid the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic.
For its part, Kerry has devised its Tastesense Sweet solution, enabling sugar reduction to a broad spread of food and drink ranges, claiming potential cuts of 30% within product ranges, which it believes will make a key difference.
In the wake of its development, the company has released its “Innovative Taste for a Better Life and Planet”, a technical report that uses life cycle assessment (LCA) to quantify the environmental and nutritional benefits of its new series. Conducted in conjunction with a global-leading third-party sustainability expert consultancy, the LCA found, by using Tastesense Sweet at the recommended dosage, that manufacturers will be able to reduce sugar usage by around a third, to maintain a natural flavouring declaration, while delivering significant and valuable results.
From a sustainability point of view, the benefits from reducing the use of sugar are impressive: a 30% reduction in both water usage and calories, and a 20% carbon emissions reduction.
The report also analyses the example of a potential sugar reduction in a cola beverage in the EU. According to Euromonitor, 8.572 billion litres of full-sugar cola are purchased annually throughout the continent. The LCA analysis found that if Tastesense Sweet is applied to reduce the sugar content of all of these products by 30%, that the savings and benefits in Europe alone would be enormous. In this one product analysis, it would be equivalent to eliminating 68 billion sugar cubes, reduce calories intake equivalent to 1.8 trillion hours of cycling (calorie-burning), taking 29,800 cars off the road for a full year (carbon emissions), and reducing water usage by 11 million peoples’ annual showers.
“All over the world, sugar reduction is a key focus of government policymakers and food/beverage producers, not to mention consumers seeking to improve their general health and better prepare themselves to take on COVID-19,” said Otis Curtis, Global Portfolio Director, Tastesense, Kerry.
“What this life cycle assessment and analysis show is that, aside from the significant health challenges posed by excessive sugar consumption, the production of sugar exacts a large environmental toll in terms of water usage and carbon emissions. Therefore, reducing the consumption of sugar has impressive health and environmental benefits.”
“The prime challenge in lowering sugar content in foods and beverages is finding a means by which to maintain the significant taste, texture and mouthfeel properties uniquely provided by sugar. Our Kerry Tastesense Sweet enables sugar reduction of up to 30% and the maintenance of a natural flavoring declaration while delivering excellent sweetness properties, appealing mouthfeel, and a clean lingering effect with no off-notes. It can help make a range of tasty foods and beverages healthier for people and better for the planet.”
Most people know that excess sugar negatively impacts personal and public health. However, many are unaware that sugar processing also comes with a negative environmental impact. Sugarcane accounts for nearly 80% of global sugar production, with over 100 countries currently producing the product from either cane or beets.
More than 170 million tonnes are manufactured and consumed annually, with significant effects on the planet from the processes involved in growing, harvesting, refining and distribution. The Tastesense LCA found that it takes 1,110 litres of water to produce one kilogram of cane sugar (and 640 litres in the case of beet sugar). From a climate change perspective, a kilogram of refined cane sugar leads to emissions of 0.42kg of CO2e, while sugar from beets emits twice as much (0.85kg of CO2e).
Clearly, sugar presents a compelling sustainability challenge to the world, and sustainability is an important and growing issue to consumers the world over. There has been a marked jump in the public’s expectations around sustainable product manufacture: Innova Market Insights found in 2019 that 89% of consumers now expect companies to invest in sustainability, up more than one-third (from 65%) since 2018. Over 70% of global consumers told Nielsen in 2019 they would “definitely” or “probably” change their consumption patterns habits to reduce their impact on the environment.
The good news is that products branded as “sustainable” over the last five years have had 5.6 times faster annual growth than traditional products. Sugar reduction not only makes good sense for health, it is also healthier for the environment and for brand differentiation. Aggressive sugar reduction, in short, is a valuable product development strategy for food and beverage companies worldwide.
Tastesense is a family of natural flavour product solutions. Tastesense Sweet is a range of taste solutions that improve the taste of reduced- or low-sugar products. These solutions enable sugar reductions of up to 30% while allowing for a natural flavouring declaration—50% when combined with stevia—and enabling a rebalancing of the taste experience in no-/low-sugar versions. This technology could also provide other benefits (taste longevity, better mouthfeel, increased juiciness, etc.). Tastesense Masking is a range of solutions that foster consumer acceptance when fortification, sweeteners or plant-based ingredients have been added. Tastesense Mouthfeel works to improve the mouthfeel of low-fat, low-sugar, low-alcohol and plant-based beverages.
Kerry’s “Beyond the Horizon” Sustainability Strategy
Consumers desire convenient, healthy, high-quality products that taste good and are produced in a sustainable and ethical manner. This requires food and beverage manufacturers to be forward-thinking in their efforts across the board. Through Kerry Group’s sustainability strategy, “Beyond the Horizon,” and in conjunction with its industry partners, Kerry will enhance and expand its solutions to offer sustainable nutrition, climate responsiveness, responsible sourcing, circularity and societal integrity in the production of foods and beverages