- Half of U.S. baby boomers are limiting sugar consumption or buying more products with reduced sugar content because of health concerns, according to new research from Innova Market Insights. About 40% of people in the demographic born between 1946 and 1964 are reducing their intake of sweet snacks.
- Lu Ann Williams, Innova's director of innovation, said boomers don't buy as much chocolate, desserts, ice cream or snack bars as other demographic groups. "In contrast, they are markedly more important in the yogurt, sweet baked goods and breakfast cereals categories, so these could offer opportunities for sugar reduction," she said in a statement.
- Yogurt makers are introducing more low-sugar or no-sugar products, Innova said, with 20% of launches last year making these claims compared to 4% in 2013. However, only 2% of breakfast cereals and sweet baked goods offered those claims in 2018.
Food manufacturers who want to grab a bigger slice of the baby boomer demographic might want to take note of this research. According to the results, reducing the sugar content in their products could draw in shoppers.
Studies have previously shown that boomers enjoy snacks, but prefer better-for-you items containing functional ingredients and without a big sugar load. They also spend more on snack and candy products than their millennial counterparts, according to IRI, giving food makers and marketers another incentive to target them instead of focusing so much R&D, marketing and advertising efforts on younger generations.
Consumers in general continue to be concerned about sugar levels in their food and beverages. One-third of Americans link sugar with weight gain, 71% read the sugar content on ingredient labels and 46% strongly want to reduce their sugar consumption, according to a Kerry white paper cited by Food Navigator. And, as boomers get older, there's an increased focus on limiting weight gain and health problems such as diabetes, which has been linked to sugar consumption.
Consumers are trending away from sugar, with per-capita consumption of it and other caloric sweeteners declining in 2017 for the third straight year. But critics say U.S. sugar consumption is still too high. Americans typically consume more than 13% of their total daily calories from added sugars, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The demand for less sugar has spurred several different sugar-reduction innovations, including artificial sweeteners, natural sweeteners, hollow and faster-dissolving sugar molecules and flavor boosters. Ingredients companies introducing these innovations include Ingredion, which has developed the Versasweet line of low-sugar glucose syrups, and Kerry Taste and Nutrition, which debuted the TasteSense natural flavoring solution to bring back sweetness lost when sugar is reduced.
CPG companies have made cutting sugar a priority.
Danone, for example, recently introduced a Greek low fat yogurt with two grams of sugar called Two Good. Last month, Kind, which has been working to reduce the sugar content in its products for several years, debuted an augmented reality installation pop-up called Sweetners Uncovered in New York City and an online database to showcase the different sweeteners and sugar sources hidden in top-selling snacks — including many of Kind's competitors like Kellogg and General Mills. And California-based startup Perennial recently introduced a plant-based beverage with no sweeteners just for consumers 50 years and older.
These studies on sugar reduction could dovetail into more reduced-sugar or no-sugar products if CPG companies continue limiting sweetness levels in some products. Manufacturers might also consider developing low-sugar alternative sweetener products specifically for boomers, which could help boost business over competitors who ignore the demographic.
Perennial's founders said 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day and 8% of the population is 65 or older. This could present fertile ground for development of products designed for boomers wanting to enhance health and limit sugar at the same time — providing a lucrative revenue stream for food and beverage companies desperate for growth.