Opportunities in product development
While just over half of consumers agree a healthy diet should be low in sugar, 47% said it is fine to indulge in a sugary treat occasionally, according to Mintel. Taste, after all, remains the top driver of purchasing decisions.
“But consumers are looking for more transparency from food and drink companies so they can make those decisions themselves and know if a product contains sugar and if it’s an opportunity for them to cut that product or maybe it’s a time to indulge,” Ms. Mattucci said. “Thirty-five per cent of U.S. consumers agree food and drink products should be doing more to reduce the amount of sugar in their products, and 34% agree companies should be making it easier to understand how much sugar is in their products.”
Brands may consider featuring icons on packaging that indicate sweetness level, as spicy products demonstrate with pepper icons to convey heat, Ms. Mattucci said.
“We see in other categories, other flavor indicators, perhaps using intensity scales to inform consumers about how spicy or how cooling or how bitter a product might be,” she said. “We do see this happening for sugar in a couple products, but not very many.”
Additionally, companies may explore new flavor profiles in product development to add lower-sugar offerings to traditionally sweet categories.
“For example, the snack bar category has predominantly been dominated by sweet flavors, but there are opportunities there for more savory flavors,” Ms. Mattucci said.
Brands including Kashi and Kind have introduced snack bars with savory flavor profiles. Sour beverages such as kombucha and drinking vinegars are gaining traction as a low-sugar alternative to sugared soft drinks. Additionally, products sweetened with fruit may leverage a “no added sugar” claim.“About 3 in 10 care about added sugar or are watching out for added sugar,” Ms. Mattucci said. “I think we can anticipate that going up as we continue to see more conversations about added sugar on labels and as we start to see those no added sugar claims begin to appear on more food and drink products.”