Sector report: Innova showcases an increasing trend towards industry sugar reduction
scattering of chocolate slices on a dark blue background
Innova Market Insights’ latest Ingredient Insider report analyses trends in sugar reduction and the use of sweeteners in food and beverages. The report includes market and consumer research, new product activity and the use of sugar-related claims within the industry, including confectionery and bakery markets.
Efforts to reduce sugar levels are well established and ongoing, reflecting the well-documented link to dental caries as well as the widely held view that high sugar consumption is a causative factor for a range of conditions including weight gain, diabetes and hyperactivity in children. Government intervention in this regard has become more widespread globally, including the use of sugar taxes and the regulation of advertising targeting children.
Four in 10 consumers in Innova’s global Health and Nutrition Survey in 2020 claimed to have decreased their sugar consumption over a 12-month period. The prevention of health conditions was the leading reason given for this reduction, ahead of weight management and followed by dental health. As the organisation has previously noted to Confectionery Production, manufacturers within the confectionery sector are increasingly looking to alternative sweeteners with product lines, as well as means of reducing sugar, as has been seen recently with Dairy Milk’s 30% less sugar variety.
There have also been a broad range of natural sweeteners including stevia that have been put forward by groups such as Tate and Lyle, Cargill and Puratos to name a few, who have helped push the boundaries for new product development, which is increasingly looking towards perceived healthier options.
“In recent years ingredient innovations have enabled manufacturers to better replicate the multiple sensory and functional properties of sugar, including sweetness, mouthfeel, bulk, browning and moisture retention, while lowering the amounts of sugar and calories,” reports Lu Ann Williams, Global Insights Director at Innova Market Insights.
Sweeteners currently include non-nutritive, bulk, reduced-calorie sugars and rare sugars, but ongoing research is likely to discover forms of sugar that can be marketed as natural and offer both formulation and metabolic benefits, while increasingly successfully targeting the high taste expectations of consumers.
As well as NPD activity in sweet ingredients, such as fruits to provide sweetness that does not count towards added sugar on labels, the demand for natural sweeteners like stevia, monk fruit and erythritol is rising in response to consumer demand for clean products and a clean label. These are starting to displace other sweeteners considered to be artificial, reflecting Innova Market Insights’ Top Trend for 2021, “Transparency Triumphs.” Companies are upping their game to tell the story of their product by detailing exact ingredients and origins along with production processes.
Manufacturers are continuing to develop new steviol rebaudioside glycosides with sweetness profiles that better match the taste of sugar. At the same time, new production methods are reducing environmental impact. Blends of ingredients used to replicate the sensory and functional properties of sugar include plant-derived sweet-tasting fibres such as chicory root fibre.
These ingredient mixes will continue to optimise taste, recognising its vital role as a purchase driver. These can encompass concentrated sweeteners alone, or in combination with fibres and other components that replicate the sensory and functional properties of sugar. Ingredients can be chosen and tailored to match the dietary requirements of consumers, including plant based, vegan and gluten free. They are also likely to offer benefits beyond sweetness, such as better-tolerated fibers and protein fortification.