- According to a survey taken by British ingredients company Tate & Lyle, 60% of consumers — predominately across Europe — want to reduce their sugar intake, but 75% said that the taste of the finished product is what's most important to them, according to a roundup of the presentation in Food Ingredients First.
- When reformulating a product to reduce its sugar content and calorie count, manufacturers have several challenges to meet, but Dr. Kavita Karnik of Tate & Lyle told Food Ingredients First that the most important are consumer demand, acceptance and government policy.
- Consumers who responded to the survey were also aware that they should cut their salt and calorie intake.
This survey highlighted responses from European consumers, but people around the world are focusing on cutting back on their sugar intake. According to research from Euromonitor, Americans lead the globe in sugar consumption, consuming more than 126 grams per day. It's more than twice the average sugar intake of the other countries in the Euromonitor study, as well as more that twice what is recommended by the World Health Organization.
In other studies on the same topic, consumers said they preferred more natural sweeteners, with all-natural honey taking the top spot.
However, reformulating products can bring more problems than benefits. Ingredients play many roles in products, and manufacturers can't often make simple swaps. Additionally, natural sweeteners like stevia should be used in smaller amounts, and there are detectable aftertastes that manufacturers need to deal with.
Even if they are successful, reformulations don't always fix the underlying problem. According to a report from the Sugar Association, the items used in a new version of a product aren't necessarily healthier. And even if they are healthier, consumers may feel they can eat or drink larger portions, which is another issue.
Instead of getting rid of one problematic ingredient, it may be better for manufacturers to take a holistic approach to making products more healthy. Products can be retooled or innovated to serve consumers' desire for less sugar, but also include more nutritional value to align with health trends and not cause any problems down the road.