Increasing Consumer Needs Driving Innovation & Development in Sweeteners
There is a paradigm shift in the consumers’ awareness, expectations, and demands for healthy food & beverages, which they seek to be fulfilled by the natural, nutritious and familiar ingredients. Sugar or sweetener is an inevitable part of the food, which is under the high vigilance of the consumers. Sugar has become an essential driving feature for consumer purchase. Also, a study reported that ~70% of the consumer read sugar content on the label while more than 40% of the consumers want to reduce sugar intake.
Thus, the food, beverages, and confectionery manufacturers are putting sugar reduction at the forefront in their product formulation. Also, consumer’s demand for sweeteners has risen a lot more than low sugars, where consumers are also looking at labels for the following, without compromising on the taste.
These consumer demands are acting as driving factor in the product formulation and pushing in the downstream of the industry, the sweetener manufacturers to create and innovate more. In the recent past, the sweetener manufacturers have intensified their product launches with multiple options and variations to cater to the needs of this highly dynamic market.
Cargill launched several sweetener solutions such as SweetPure (a label-friendly and unrefined sweetener) for bakery and cereal application, C☆TruSweet 01795 (fructose syrup having high sweetness than sucrose and 30% reduction in the sugar and calorie). Further, innovations are leading to provide solutions by combing the effects of different type of sugars. C☆TruSweet 01795, when used with stevia, helps in further reduction in the calorie and sugar content.
To address the intensified product development activities by formulators, Cargill introduced a customized sweetener innovation platform, called Infuse that offers prototypes of customized blends based on formulator’s requirement of sugar reduction, low calorie, natural and clean label claims thereby reducing the development time.
Tate & Lyle, one of the biggest sweetener manufacturers also have a commercial offering of stevia RebM. SweeGen entered the Chinese market by forming a JV with China Commercial Foreign Trade Group (CCFT) to distribute ‘Bestevia next-generation non-GMO zero-calorie stevia sweetener’, to capture the biggest sweetener market. Sweegen has been particularly targeting expansion in the Asia-Pacific market having recently gained approvals for their Bestevia products in Singapore and Australia. In 2018, the DOLCE consortium (that includes, BRAIN AG, AnalytiCon Discovery GmbH and Roquette) announced that they have identified 25 sweeteners for potential development in the future.
High-intensity sweeteners with natural claims observed to be the focus of the industry where stevia, monk fruit, wheat and barley malt-based sugar were among the focus of these companies. In addition, the sweetener manufacturers anticipate high growth avenues for the Alulose and Stevia, which are yet to be explored in many applications. The manufacturers are also experiencing greater opportunities in plant and fruit extracted sugars and providing a solution by plugging in a different type of sweeteners.
The consumers are expected to sustain the motivation, and the lead role of any product development is to be played by both by the formulators and the sweetener manufacturers. New product development needs to be coupled with sweetness balance with other functional benefits, clean and natural claim with taste remaining paramount of all the factors.
Preeti Sharma, Project Lead, Food & Nutrition