NEW ORLEANS — Count on consumers noticing a new listing for added sugars in the Nutrition Facts Label. High-intensity sweeteners and hydrocolloids may help in ensuring a low number appears on that listing. Those were key takeaways from a session on sugar reduction held June 5 in New Orleans at IFT19, the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food exposition.
The Food and Drug Administration will begin enforcing the mandatory declaration of added sugars on the Nutrition Facts Label on Jan. 1, 2020. Added sugars are sugars that either are added during the processing of foods or are packaged as such.
A nationwide consumer survey from FONA International, Geneva, Ill., found 63% of 300 respondents said they would rethink purchasing a product based on knowing the amount of added sugars, and 18% said they no longer would purchase the product if the amount of added sugars were too high.
FONA International data also showed 56% of consumers said they were eating less sugar than a year before, and 42% said they would like to reduce sugar intake. Taste and price were a higher priority than sugar, but barely. When asked what was more important, 52% said price was more important than grams of sugar per serving and 59% said taste was more important than grams of sugar per serving.
“But added sugars greatly influence product purchase overall,” said Pamela Oscarson, consumer insights manager for FONA International, at IFT19.
MaryAnne Drake, Ph.D., a professor of food science at North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C., has led research on reducing the amount of added sugar in chocolate milk while keeping in the flavor and mouthfeel that children and adults find pleasing.
Children ages 5 to 12 and their parents both liked chocolate milk with as little as 12 grams of added sugar per serving. Cutting sugar to under 10 grams, the objective of the study, required the inclusion of stevia or monk fruit. Using the chocolate milk with 12 grams of added sugar as the control, the researchers found they could replace 25% of the sugar with either stevia or monk fruit without any overall loss in liking of the product. That chocolate milk had 9 grams of added sugar.
“I want to point out that as you start pulling sugar out and you start putting other sweeteners in, you’re going to pay a price for that,” Dr. Drake said in relation to input costs.
Claims of reduced sugar, low carbohydrate and naturally sweetened are attractive to consumers, she said.
“We see desires for these claims across multiple products, whether we’re talking about an indulgent product like ice cream or health and wellness products like protein bars,” Dr. Drake said.
Taking sugar out of products requires finding a way to replace the texture it provides. That’s where hydrocolloids may prove helpful. TIC Gums, White Marsh, Md., a business unit of Ingredion, Inc., has developed a texture system that includes a high-intensity sweetener, stevia, and a hydrocolloid, acacia, said Jigar Rathod, a senior scientist for TIC Gums. The stevia provides the sweetness, and the acacia provides the mouthfeel and body in beverage applications like flavored water, teas, coffee, isotonic beverages, carbonated drinks, juice drinks and instant beverage mixes.