Chocolate milk
By manipulating sweeteners, dairy product manufacturers may reduce added sugars and lower calories.

CHICAGO — Milk’s nutrient profile makes dairy products attractive foods for providing sustained energy and curbing appetite. By manipulating sweeteners, which are vital to taste and texture, it is possible to reduce added sugars and lower calories, making the foods even more attractive to label-reading consumers.

Sweetener content and form matters, according to research commissioned by Morris Plains, N.J.-based Beneo in early 2016. A study of 1,000 U.S. consumers showed that along with looking for foods that are natural, clean label and nutritious, consumers pay close attention to the types and levels of sweetener in foods.

More than half of the consumers polled said they try to curb their sugar intake. Key reasons cited behind this objective included healthy diet (58%), weight management (56%), as well as tooth decay and diabetes (37% and 28%, respectively). On the other hand, respondents said they were not prepared to completely forego sugar, with taste being the No. 1 reason.

Before formulators remove and replace added sugars with other sweeteners, it is paramount to understand the many functions sugar performs in dairy applications.

Reducing sugar
More than half of consumers polled say they try to curb their sugar intake.

Ice cream
Sugar plays a key role in texture and the overall quality of ice cream.

Yogurt with toppings
In yogurt, sugar’s roles are to sweeten and add solids (mouthfeel) to the base, as well as the flavorful add-ins.