- Cumberland Packing Corp. introduced All-Purpose In The Raw Optimal Zero Calorie sweetener, a blend of the natural sweeteners monk fruit, stevia, allulose and erythritol. The product is formulated to be a direct substitute for sugar, with a similar look, taste, texture and baking properties, and no aftertaste.
- The sweetener is non-GMO, vegan and keto certified and gluten free. It has a low glycemic value and no net carbs, according to the company. The product is sold in 14-ounce resealable bags at Amazon, Walmart's website and Publix.
- The product marks the latest entrant in the search for the best natural, no-calorie sweetener. A product like this is in high demand among consumers eager to cut their sugar intake, but not wanting to sacrifice the ingredient's familiar taste, texture and other functional qualities.
With its newest product, Cumberland Packing is banking on a blend of four sweeteners to hit a long-sought target: a natural, no-calorie, exact swap for sugar, making it easy to substitute in baking. The challenge for food manufacturers has been picking the right sweeteners in the ideal combination and quantities to get an agreeable end result.
The company picked each sweetener in the blend for different sugar-like functionalities: stevia and monk fruit for sweetness without calories, allulose for a clean taste and to provide browning properties in recipes and erythritol to supply the sugar-like texture and ability to substitute it cup for cup.
Each of those sweeteners on its own has it pluses and minuses. Stevia has cost and scale advantages and is naturally 30 to 40 times sweeter than sugar, but can have bitter notes or leave a lingering aftertaste. Monk fruit is less bitter, but has its own unique aftertaste.
Allulose, a low-calorie sweetener that naturally occurs in wheat and dried fruits, is about 70% as sweet as sugar with only about 10% of the calories — but can also cause bloating if eaten in large amounts. Erythritol, a sugar alcohol naturally found in plants, contains fewer calories than sugar but provides up to 80% of the sweetness. However, like allulose, it can cause digestive issues when eaten in large amounts.
Manufacturers have blended these sweeteners in different combinations to aim for the right functionality. For example, monk fruit's sweetness is often used to mask the bitterness of stevia. But Cumberland Packing's combination of four natural sweeteners to fully replicate sugar in all of its qualities is ambitious — and carries some risk.
Even though consumers are concerned about their sugar intake — seven in 10 are concerned about the level of the sweetener in their diets, according to a 2018 Ipsos survey — they are not necessarily happy with their other options. And according to consumer research, consumers still consider sugar to have a highly desirable flavor and taste, and its own natural credentials to boot.
Cumberland Packing can draw on its considerable experience in sweeteners, both conventional and alternative, to tackle this dynamic. It owns Sweet'N Low, the saccharin-based pioneer developed more than 55 years ago, as well as NatraTaste Blue aspartame sweetener and NatraTaste Gold, made from sucralose. Its natural In The Raw brand family includes stevia, monk fruit, honey and agave sweeteners, along with its familiar turbinado cane sugar product. Recent additions to the line include organic white sugar and stevia products.
The company also has some experience blending sweeteners in an end product. In 2015, the company introduced a line of reduced-calorie packaged beverages, including tea, lemonade and soda sweetened with a blend of sugar and stevia.
There are also other sweeteners that offer the ease of one-to-one substitution, including sucralose-based Splenda. But they have their own trade-offs in terms of browning, texture and volume. Home bakers are often advised to blend in some sugar for the desired end effect. With the rise of baking and cooking at home during the pandemic, Cumberland Packing's All-Purpose In The Raw is sure to be put to the test over the coming year and to reveal if a balance has indeed been struck with its sweetener combination.