How manufacturers can adapt to the 'month without sugar' trend

Dive Brief:

  • Manufacturers continue to struggle to find new ways to reduce or eliminate sugar in processed foods or otherwise juggle consumer demand for less sugar in their diets, according to The New York Times.
  • The newspaper recently published an op-ed that proposes readers stop eating sugar for one month, a dietary change that could impact segments ranging from soda and confections to soups and yogurt.
  • This shift in thoughts about sugar has already spurred manufacturers' voluntary product reformulations and policy changes like soda taxes and the added sugar line in the new Nutrition Facts panel.

Dive Insight:

Manufacturers across categories have attempted to address this shift in consumer thought and behavior by finding sugar or sweetener alternatives. But even those alternatives can be problematic, like artificial sweeteners, which carry their own health concerns.

Another option is natural sources of sweetness, such as honey or agave. But these types of sweeteners can still have a high glucose index, which means they can impact consumers' blood glucose levels, and ultimately their health.

Certain categories may struggle more than others in terms of finding ways to reduce, eliminate or replace sugar without significantly altering or sacrificing flavor, particularly in the eyes of brand loyal consumers. PepsiCo experienced this firsthand last year after consumers took to social media to complain about the flavor of Diet Pepsi, which had been reformulated to replace aspartame with another artificial sweetener.

Yogurt brands could struggle more than others because it has traditionally been a sweeter product. General Mills and Chobani have committed to expanding the yogurt and Greek yogurt categories to address consumers' concerns about sugar and create new products to meet rising demand.

Nestlé researchers have also created a new, natural method to restructure sugar, enabling manufacturers to use up to 40% less sugar in their products without reducing sweetness. Products made with this faster-dissolving sugar won't hit the market until 2018, but this innovation could have a big impact on the confectionery segment. 

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Filed Under: Manufacturing Ingredients
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