Today’s consumers want a life that is healthier for themselves and the environment, and this journey often starts with food and beverages. Coralie Garcia Perrin, Global Marketing Director-Sweet Taste, Kerry reports for FJF
According to Kerry’s ConsumerFirst research, 87% of consumers are trying to reduce their sugar consumption or consumer sugar in moderation. They are increasingly seeking products with reduced sugar and healthier credentials, challenging manufacturers to respond to demands without sacrificing the tastes consumers have come to love. The pandemic has accelerated this shift in consumer behaviour, with evidence that co-morbidities such as obesity and diabetes can lead to more severe COVID-19 outcomes.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines recommend that for the prevention of obesity and tooth decay, adults and children alike must keep their consumption of free sugars to less than 10%of their daily energy intake (equivalent to about a dozen teaspoons of table sugar for adults).
Taxation to lower sugar
Meanwhile, some 50 countries or jurisdictions have implemented taxes on sugary drinks to discourage consumption and fight diseases that can be exacerbated by poor diets. Among the latest places to turn to taxation as a means of encouraging healthy habits and fighting obesity-related illness are Spain and Poland, which introduced new sugar taxes in January of 2021.
Most consumers know that excess sugar intake negatively affects personal and public health. However, an increasing number are becoming aware of the negative environmental impact of sugar. Over 1,000 litres of water are needed to produce 1kg of sugar from sugarcane, emitting -042kg of C02. According to new research from Kerry, 49% of consumers are now considering sustainability when buying food and drink, and 62% want companies to take a position on sustainability.
The creation of low-sugar beverages comes with taste challenges, with consumers demanding that products retain the flavour that they love. It is important for manufactures to get flavour right in order to ensure repeat purchase and foster brand loyalty. Issues around poor mouthfeel, lack of sweetness sensation and increased perceptions of acidity can also impact on the enjoyment of a product.
Manufacturers can employ a number of solutions to tackle these problems, including the use of natural flavour systems and masking systems to increasing the perception of sweetness through flavour tonalities. Kerry’s Tastesense™ is a natural flavour solution that modifies the sweetness and flavour profile, providing for great taste in sugar-reduced beverages, enabling consumers to enjoy the pleasing taste and mouthfeel delivered by sugar, yet without the negative labelling impact. A recent life cycle analysis (LCA) carried out by Kerry showed that our Tastesense solution delivered a 30% reduction in sugar, saving 840 litres of water per 1kg.
Appetite for change
Consumers are actively embracing sugar reduction as a key component of improved nutrition. The global beverage and food industry are making enormous progress in reducing sugar in various products, and these measures are delivering more wholesome products to consumers. However, solutions must also consider the environment – this will help us achieve our goals around health and sustainability together.