New ingredients could reduce added sugars, but keep products sweet
- Ingredion introduced a line of low-sugar glucose syrups to help food manufacturers reduce the amount of sugar shown on Nutrition Facts panels. According to the Westchester, Illinois company, its Versasweet products have a lower percentage of monosaccharides and disaccharides.
- Kerry Taste and Nutrition has developed TasteSense, a natural flavoring solution designed to bring back sweetness that's lost when sugar is reduced, the company told Food Ingredients First. TasteSense allows for up to 30% sugar reduction and can be labeled as a natural flavoring.
- The goals of both products are to lower sugar content without greatly disrupting ingredient lists, yet still appeal to consumers who don't want to compromise on taste.
Reducing sugar content in food and beverages is a main focus for manufacturers today. Consumers continue to trend toward healthier products and clean, transparent labeling. The updated Nutrition Facts panel — now delayed until Jan 1, 2020 for large manufacturers — requires a line item indicating added sugars. Consumers indicate they want this information, even if they don't always check it.
Ingredion notes that depending on which of its low-sugar glucose syrups is used, the ingredient can be labeled as glucose syrup, corn syrup or tapioca syrup. And this could make a big difference to consumers. Corn syrup has lost favor in recent years due to its less-than-healthy image, and some manufacturers started substituting real sugar in its place as a result.
Kerry doesn't explain how its TasteSense flavor booster product works — only that it adds back the sweetness and mouthfeel lost by reducing sugar, and that it can be labeled as a natural flavoring. Leigh Ann Vaughn, the company's marketing director, told Food Ingredients First that food and beverage companies often believe that reducing sugar content means they have to compromise on function and taste.
"Sugar doesn’t just add the sweet taste to a product, it is much more complex. It is also used to give some food and beverages the texture, and overall mouthfeel that consumers love," Vaughn told Food Ingredients First. “Many solutions offered cannot fully deliver the lost taste and mouthfeel of sugar. Many also bring with them undesirable off-notes and aftertastes.”
Food and beverage manufacturers are doing their best to avoid the presence of added sugar on labels. The trick will be to reformulate products to retain their sweet taste but with a reduced level of actual sugars. It's a balancing act that may be helped along by these new products, but, as always, consumers will be the ones to make the final decision.