ProSweets 2024 set to showcase sugar reduction and clean label trends
ProSweets and ISM offered a wide range of demonstrations this year. Pic: 'Neill Barston
One of the hottest topics for January’s upcoming ProSweets event will be a core focus on sustainable confectionery and snacks defined by sugar reduction or clean label manufacturing, according to the event’s organisers, writes Neill Barston.
As Koelnmesse noted, the industry has been posed a major challenge in reconciling health issues and the demand for great tasting product ranges – which remains the most fundamental consideration for many consumers’ purchases.
However, manufacturers will be supported by a host of raw material, ingredients, as well as machinery specialists at this year’s ProSweets, taking place alongside its sister ISM confectionery show between 28-31 January in Cologne, as the event returns to its start-of-year positioning after its one-off placement in April of this year.
Notably, the event is set to showcase a wide range of functional ingredients manufacturers that have set benchmarks in the reformulation process and enable product concepts that excel with their innovative flavours and attractive colours. As Koelnmesse noted, naturalness and health are becoming more decisive when purchasing snacks and sweets. Over 80 percent of the consumers worldwide state that sustainability aspects are important when choosing sweets.
Clean label trending
The clean label trend has also long since hit the sweet and snack shelves – products without additives are meanwhile matter of course for many consumers. As a result, all of the companies of the sweets industry are looking for the corresponding solutions, either by developing new products or through the reformulation of existing products. One of the most exciting questions that will be discussed at ProSweets Cologne is thus how the sweet manufacturers succeed in aligning the colour, texture and taste to satisfy the trends towards a heightened awareness for health.
Furthermore, as Confectionery Production has previously reported, the trend towards reformulation is being further reinforced by Nutri-Score, which has been at the disposal of companies in Germany since the end of autumn 2020. One strategy pursued here is the gradual reduction of the sugar content in order to retain the taste profile of a product and the related consumer acceptance. True to the motto “Cocoa first, sugar last” the recipes for reformulated chocolate contain up to 80 percent more cocoa today and half as much sugar.
ProSweets Cologne also shows how sugar replacements can work as an integral solution in snack bars: With natural honey-based sweetness and combinations between nuts and dried fruits that can be processed as pieces, powder or freeze-dried granules.
They add both taste and a crispy crunchiness. The gradual reduction of sugar always reaches its limits when the texture or the breakage and biting behaviour suffers as a result. One tries to compensate for this above all using low glycaemic carbohydrates and fibres, which are becoming more and more well-known as partial sugar replacements.
For instance, in the case of sugar-reduced fruit gums inulin, a prebiotic fibre obtained from chicory roots, creates a pleasant feeling in the mouth. Short-chain fructooligosaccharides extracted from sugar beet are also mildly sweet, well-soluble and have natural characteristics that have a positive influence on the taste and texture of bakery products or cereals. At the same time they enable fibre enrichment.
This improves the nutritional profile and manufacturers can achieve a better rating in nutrition labelling systems. Natural dyes with many facets There is no question about it: Bright colours simply belong to the world of sweets.
Regarding colouring, it is about retaining the authenticity and naturalness with shades that are reminiscent of seasonal fruits. For the ingredients specialists there is no way around the sustainable cultivation of plant-based raw materials that are rich in colour and the gentle processing thereof. Colouring foodstuffs gained from fruits, vegetables and edible plants are an ideal option for sweets manufacturers in order to unite rich colours and the possibility of a clean label. The offer at the Cologne fair grounds encompasses diverse dyes that can be chosen to suit the application.
This also applies for white dyes that replace titanium dioxide (E 171) that has been banned in the EU since February 2022. Due to its light refraction, titanium dioxide had played an important role: It created white surfaces that let the colours shine out. Especially in the case of products coated in sugar a whitener is frequently needed to create a surface layer between a dark chocolate core and a coloured coating.
As the organising team noted, the latest innovations in this segment are for instance based on calcium carbonate encapsulated with rice protein, which must however be declared as an additive. Rice starch is considered to be one of the clean label alternatives with a high degree of whiteness. It is suitable for chewing-gum, hard caramels or chocolate drops. Thanks to the small size of the grains it leaves a smooth surface on the coating, without a grey or yellow sheen. Instagram stars to nibble at Yellow and red are the most frequently used colours for many applications. Lively blue and green shades are popular too. They drive the innovations of the product developers forward and offer manifold possibilities of creating sweets that stand out from the crowd and excel with their appearance on Instagram.
The latest developments in the section of glazing, separating and sealing agents will be presented at ProSweets Cologne. As part of the reformation strategies these too also have to do justice to the consumers’ increased demands in sweets and at the same time still retain their functionality.
Furthermore, the course of the sustainability debate, people are paying more attention to the origin and sustainable procurement of products and their raw materials. The green pressure is growing – ingredients influence purchasing decisions In addition to the usual quality characteristics like “gluten or lactose-free, ketofriendly or kosher”, a CO2 statement will also influence the customers’ purchasing decisions in future. In this way, technologies will be tested using secondary materials that are locally available, which can hugely reduce the CO2 footprint and expand the diversity of the product offers.
In cooperation with Haute Innovation from Berlin, ProSweets Cologne will present sustainable snack innovations from all over the globe on the special “Collaboration X InGREENients” exhibition zone. The focus is primarily on the sustainability aspect and the use of unusual ingredients for small in-between nibbles.