- Nestlé researchers have engineered a natural way to structure sugar that enables manufacturers to use up to 40% less without reducing the sweetness of their products, according to a news release.
- "With this new restructured sugar you essentially get the same pay-off, the same taste of sugar on your tongue, but because the inside of the structure is hollow, you're not ingesting additional sugar," Lisa Gibby, vice president of corporate communications at Nestle S.A., told Food Dive.
- Nestlé is currently patenting its discovery of this faster-dissolving sugar and plans to release confectionery products using the new sugar beginning in 2018.
Nestlé has already committed to reducing sugar and otherwise promoting nutrition in various areas of its portfolio for the past several years, including its ice cream products this year. In June, Nestlé USA released its second annual Creating Shared Value report, which detailed some of these nutrition-related efforts, including reducing sugar.
"This is an example of material science and how we're leveraging this technology to improve our products," Gibby said. "We've been on this steady journey to reduce the sugars in our foods and this innovation with sugar, this scientific breakthrough, allows us to accelerate that process," Gibby said.
This discovery especially impacts confectionery brands, though Gibby said that Nestlé plans to expand this technology as appropriate to other categories in the future. Sugary foods like candy and chocolate haven't necessarily seen sales declines recently, but growth has slowed for many categories. The deceleration is primarily consumer driven. Nearly half (47%) of global consumers today demand for foods with limited or no added sugar, according to a Euromonitor survey.
Part of manufacturers' challenges in reducing the sugar content of their products often revolves around finding alternative sweeteners. Many of these, natural or artificial, either carry their own health concerns or impart a non-natural flavor that turns off sugar-loving consumers.
Instead of focusing on different sweetener ingredients, manufacturers could follow Nestlé's lead: Find a way to scientifically engineer sugar molecules to provide the same amount of sweetness without as much volume of sweetener needed. It's a different approach that could align manufacturers' efforts with both sugar reduction and consumers' clean label demands.