Reducing sugar content in food and beverages has been a hot-button issue for years as health advocates point to sugar consumption as one of the major factors for global obesity. Sugar also was thrust into the spotlight earlier this year when the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) recommended consumers eat less than 10 percent of daily calories from added sugars.
In May 2016, FDA unveiled new requirements for the Nutrition Facts label of packaged foods, including the reporting of a product’s added sugar content. This new attention to added sugar intake on packagingas well as consumer demand for sweeteners that are natural, sustainable and healthfulprovides brands the opportunity to increase use of alternative sweeteners when developing or reformulating products.
But cutting sugar content without affecting taste is a monumental task, and one many food product developers have been working on for years. First and foremost, taste is king. If it doesn’t taste good consumers won’t buy it, and companies will lose money both at retail and internally at the product development and marketing levels.
However, the idea that my favorite chocolate bar might taste just as good while containing less sugar might soon be a reality thanks to a major breakthrough by Nestlé scientists.
Using only natural ingredients, researchers have found a way to structure sugar differently. So even when much less is used in chocolate, your tongue perceives an almost identical sweetness to before. The discovery will enable Nestlé to significantly decrease the total sugar in its confectionery products, while maintaining a natural taste.
“This truly groundbreaking research is inspired by nature and has the potential to reduce total sugar by up to 40% in our confectionery," said Stefan Catsicas, Nestlé Chief Technology Officer. “Our scientists have discovered a completely new way to use a traditional, natural ingredient."
Nestlé is patenting its findings and will begin to use the faster-dissolving sugar across a range of its confectionery products from 2018 and beyond. The company expects to provide more details about the first roll-out of reduced-sugar confectionery sometime next year.
The research will accelerate Nestlé’s efforts to meet its continued public commitment to reducing sugar in its products. It is one of a wide range of commitments the company has made on nutrition, which includes improving the nutritional profile of its products by reducing the amount of sugar, salt and saturated fat they contain, while at the same time as increasing healthier nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and whole grain.
Interest in sugar reduction has combined with the ongoing emphasis on clean labeling to boost the use of natural sweeteners in particular, with more sophisticated blends developed for specific applications increasingly in evidence. Check out INSIDER’s Ingredient Insights Video: Natural Sweetener Ingredients to learn more.