Fruit-based ingredient could replace refined sugar in RTE cereals
- Gat Foods has debuted Fruitlift, an ingredient made from 90% "fruit components" in liquid form that can replace refined sugar in ready-to-eat cereals, according to a company press release.
- The ingredient gives a fruity taste to a product. It can also be blended into an existing flavor, the company said. In addition, Fruitlift eliminates the need for anti-caking agents and will keep the texture of the product crisp.
- Fruitlift uses different fruits for its product, including apples, bananas, mangoes and pineapples.
Gat Foods, which has processed fruit for beverage makers for more than 75 years, is making a strategic expansion into the cereal aisle as sales of the RTE product struggle. In 2018, U.S. consumers bought $8.3 billion worth of cereal, a meaningful drop from the $8.8 billion spent in 2016, according to Nielsen statistics.
Their approach could be a boon for RTE cereals, at least for those manufacturers trying align with consumer demand and limit sugar in some products. Cereal is increasingly viewed as too high in refined sugars and other less-desirable ingredients. When children are factored into the equation, it's important to reduce the sugar load without compromising on taste or hiking production costs, the company said.
Not all manufacturers have embraced this strategy, however. General Mills, Kellogg and Post have introduced some products with indulgent, sugary cereals, although sales results have been mixed. General Mills patented a cereal coating in 2017 that can reportedly reduce sugar content by 30% or more — likely an attempt to accommodate those shoppers looking for less sweeteners in their breakfast bowl.
For those cereal makers looking to reformulate with less sugar, Fruitlift could be an answer. The ingredient offers apple, banana, mango, citrus and pineapple flavors. Gat Foods said the sweetness level can be adjusted. RTE cereal manufacturers using more natural ingredients, such as Fruitlift, could see some marketing advantages with reformulated recipes touting no refined sugar.
A 2018 Kerry white paper noted that new product launches featuring "low/no/reduced sugar" label claims jumped 45% in 2017 compared to the previous five years. Products with "no artificial sweeteners" claims climbed 4.4% from 2017 to 2018, and those with "no added sugar" increased 2.6% during the same period, according to the survey.
Other non-sugar sweeteners appearing in cereal include sucralose, which is used in General Mills' Fiber One Original cereal, and polydextrose and fructose, which can be found in the company's' Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal with 25% less sugar.
A sugar replacement ingredient using real fruit — and adding to a product's fiber content — could help revive the struggling cereal market and possibly even have applications in other segments where consumers and food makers are looking to reduce the amount of refined sugar they use.