- Manufacturers are exploring alternatives to sugar in order to sweeten yogurt, according to an article in Food Business News.
- These efforts include adding naturally sweet fruit, high-intensity and natural sweeteners like stevia and monk fruit, naturally sweet fibers and flavors, and using chemistry to break down lactose so the resulting product is sweeter.
- Analysts expect more dairy products to launch without sugar as the federal government gets closer to rolling out its new Nutrition Facts label, which will require disclosure of a product's added sugars. According to Mintel's Global New Products Database, in 2014 only 4% of new dairy products in the U.S. featured claims of having lower or nonexistent sugar. In 2016, it was expected to be more than 7%.
Yogurt is a growing market in the United States, with new varieties, formulas and innovations being dreamed up by manufacturers to meet consumer demand for healthy, sweet and portable meals or snacks. According to Statista, U.S. sales are rapidly increasing. They were worth $7.7 billion in 2015 — up from $6.2 billion in 2010.
As manufacturers start to get ready for the relaunch of the Nutrition Facts panel, they are paying much close attention to sweeteners. The current version only shows the total amount of sugar in a product. The new version will also show how much additional sugar was added. While consumers in general want less sugar in their products, the new labeling initiative pushes manufacturers in that direction as well. Natural products that are sweeter than sugar, like stevia, and sweeter-tasting proteins that also add nutritional value can do double duty to improve a product's nutritional appearance on the new panel.
However, all that is natural won't necessarily be added-sugar free. According to recent guidance from the Food and Drug Administration, processed fruits added to products could be counted as added sugars on the new label if they contain more sugar than the fruit in its natural state.