Fruit juices
Non-sugar sweeteners and natural flavors may assist in reducing added sugars in fruit drinks.

KANSAS CITY — Added sugars detract from the health attributes of foods and beverages, and more Americans may become aware of this fact once the mandatory listing of added sugars on the Nutrition Facts Panel takes effect.

Yet the added sugar listing potentially may turn into a positive for manufacturers of products such as juice drinks and yogurt. Innovations in ingredients and technology may help reduce the amount of added sugars in products to a degree that may be promotable to consumers.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration covered the added sugars listing in a Nutrition Facts Panel final rule published in the May 27, 2016, issue of the Federal Register. The compliance date is July 26, 2018, for manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual food sales and July 26, 2019, for manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales.

The F.D.A.’s final rule defines added sugars as sugars that either are added during the processing of foods, or are packaged as such, and include sugars (free, mono- and disaccharides), sugars from syrups and honey, and sugars from concentrated fruit or vegetable juices that are in excess of what would be expected from the same volume of 100% fruit or vegetable juice of the same type.

Added sugars on average account for almost 270 calories, or 13% of total calories, per person per day in the U.S. population, according to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommends less than 10% of calories come from added sugars.

Mouthfeel in juice drinks

Sugar content already has come down in some juice drinks.

“They have reduced the amount of sugar typically found in juice to have up to a 50% reduction in calories,” said John Buckley, vice-president of taste innovation for Kerry and based in Beloit, Wis. “However, these beverage manufacturers have brought back the sweetness using a combination of non-sugar sweeteners, likely with a combination of natural flavors to make those sweeteners taste more like real sugar (enhancing of sweetness, masking of off-taste, increase in perception of mouthfeel and change in temporal profile of the sweeteners).”

Stevia extracts, which are high-intensity sweeteners, and erythritol, a polyol that has been shown to mask the aftertaste of high-intensity sweeteners, may provide assistance in reducing added sugars in fruit drinks, said Pam Stauffer, global marketing programs manager for Cargill, Minneapolis.

Mr. Buckley said, “A combination of stevia, monk fruit or erythritol is typically used in beverage formulations to replace high-intensity sweeteners, like aspartame, or to reduce the amount of real sugar bein g used.”

Kerry’s TasteSense technology uses natural extracts and fractions, which have the ability to temporarily change the way human taste receptors work by modulating the perception of sweetness while masking bitterness receptors.

Product developers also should consider mouthfeel, said Wen Shieh, Ph.D., technical leader for fruit, beverage and confections, Cargill Texturizing Solutions.

“To help product developers create reduced-sugar beverages that deliver on consumers’ mouthfeel expectations, Cargill has developed a proprietary technology that uses tribology (the science of interacting surfaces in relative motion) to shorten product development time,” Dr. Shieh said. “By incorporating hydrocolloids into low-caloric beverages, we can restore the mouthfeel to the beverage. Using this advanced technology Cargill developed the Trilisse QMF hydrocolloids system, specifically to support the beverage industry.”

Multiple tools for yogurt

Like juice drinks, many yogurt items contain added sugars. Nielsen data show 86% of the yogurt items in the United States contain added sugar, but 34% of consumers said low sugar is an attribute that influences their yogurt purchase decisions. Sales across the yogurt category declined 0.9% over the 52-week period ended Dec. 31, 2016, according to Nielsen.

Stonyfield Farm, an organic yogurt maker based in Londonderry, N.H., and a subsidiary of Groupe Danone, this year unveiled a plan to reduce added sugar across its portfolio. Stonyfield Farm wants to purchase 25% less sugar this year.

“Beyond sweetness, sugar contributes to moisture control, mouthfeel and more.” Ms. Stauffer said. “As a result, yogurt product developers will likely need to use multiple tools in the ingredient toolbox to create a successful reduced-sugar product.”

Sugar contributes sweetness, moisture control and mouthfeel to yogurt.

To reduce sugar in yogurt, Cargill offers a ViaTech portfolio of stevia-based sweeteners and the company’s proprietary taste-prediction model. Cargill’s Oliggo-Fiber, a chicory root fiber ingredient, also may be incorporated into yogurt.

Sensus America, Inc., Lawrenceville, N.J., offers inulin/chicory root fiber, too. The company’s Frutalose SF 75, for example, is 65% as sweet as sugar but half the calories. It may be combined with other sweeteners such as stevia. Besides Frutalose oligofructose, Sensus America offers Frutafit inulin.

Beneo, Inc., Morris Plains, N.J., offers Orafti inulin and oligofructose.

The glycemic index and clean label also may be considered when reducing the amount of added sugars in products.

“While high-glycemic ingredients, such as maltodextrin, help to reduce added sugars because they are oligo- or polysaccharides (and not mono- and disaccharides), they nevertheless have a significant impact on a person’s metabolism,” said Andy Estal, technical manager, NAFTA, for Beneo, which has a U.S. office in Morris Plains, N.J. “Over time, the human blood glucose regulation system can become imbalanced, leading to pre-diabetes and diabetes, accompanied by overweight conditions. For effective weight management, sugar replacement needs to go hand in hand with lower blood sugar levels.”

Beneo offers Isomalt, made from beet sugar, and Palatinose, derived from sucrose, as sweeteners that provide benefits in the glycemic index area. Isomalt has been shown to reduce sugar, including added sugar, in a 1:1 ratio, Mr. Estal said. Palatinose provides a full amount of energy (4 calories per gram) in a balanced and sustained manner, reflected by a low and steady blood glucose response curve that leads to an improved metabolic profile.

Turning to clean label, monk fruit, like stevia, is a natural sweetener that may be used alone or blended with other high-intensity sweeteners, flavor modifiers and natural masking agents, said Mark Rainey, vice-president of global food marketing for Archer Daniels Midland Co., Chicago.

Fruit extracts and natural distillates may provide sweetness and add color, aroma, flavor and taste aspects, he said. Natural flavor modifiers from ADM’s Wild Flavors & Specialty Ingredients business have been shown to help restore and maintain sweetness.

“Demand for lower calorie sweeteners from natural sources continues to be driven by consumers who are seeking products with recognizable, natural and fewer ingredients on the label,” Mr. Rainey said. “Multiple solutions exist to reduce sugar without compromising sweetness and overall eating or drinking quality in products.”