Global CPG producers cut sugar and salt from about 20% of their products in 2016, responding to growing consumer demand for healthy products, according to Bloomberg. A survey of 102 CPG companies found 180,000 products were reformulated last year — double the amount in 2015.
Legacy CPG companies are losing market share to small, health-focused food startups with nutritious and sustainable product portfolios. Bigger brands are trying to mimic the strategies of smaller companies in order to remain competitive..
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's 2016 announcement that companies will need to label products with detailed information about sugar content also is spurring manufacturers to reduce the amount of the sweetener in their foods.
Health trends are driving consumers toward healthy, better-for-you food and beverage products that contain less sugar, artificial sweeteners or salt. This shift is taking market share away from big legacy brands.
In order to remain trendy and top-of-mind, food giants have made commitments to reduce sugar and salt levels in their product formulas or replace these ingredients with healthier, natural alternatives. Nestle has engineered a way to naturally restructure the sugar molecule that reduces the amount ingested. The confection giant plans to add the new sugar to its products in 2018, which will allow the company to use up to 40% less sugar without compromising on product sweetness.
This innovation will certainly grab the attention of the consumer, if for no other reason than it makes candy favorites a little less unhealthy. It will be interesting to see if other companies follow Nestle's lead and try to engineer new versions of sugar, or if they will continue to search for natural alternative sweeteners like stevia and monk fruit.
There has been less innovation with salt in the food space, likely because sugar is the bigger no-no ingredient right now. PepsiCo worked to create a "designer salt" to reduce the amount consumed by the public. Still, state soda taxes and the recent "month without sugar" trend have kept sugar-reduction top-of-mind for consumers, while salt has stayed largely out of the limelight. It will be interesting to see if consumers turn on salt next.