Depending on which consumer research you look at, somewhere between 74% and 80% of people say they are trying to limit or avoid sugar in their diet. Consequently, the mandatory labeling of added sugars on the Nutrition Facts panel of packaging as of January 1 of this year couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. Consumer attitudes and regulations on added sugars appear to be in synch.
Sugar and sugar reduction are a hot topic and have been over the past couple of years. Sugar consumption has been linked to a number of health concerns, including diabetes and obesity, and consumers are making the diet-health connection. An added pressure on global sugar intake comes from health organizations and governmental bodies that are considering strategies, such as sugar taxes and additional regulatory restrictions.
What this all adds up to is a market ripe for sweet innovation. And that’s because despite consumers’ awareness of the negatives of sugar overconsumption, they still hunger for its sweet taste. In an article in Food Business News reporting from the International Sweetener Colloquium earlier this year, The NPD Group’s Darren Seifer was quoted as saying that although nearly three-quarters of teenagers and adults say they’re seeking to reduce or avoid sugar completely, they aren’t demonizing it. In fact, he also said consumers are turning back to natural sweeteners, including sugar, and away from artificial sweeteners.
The desire for natural sweeteners ties into the clean label trend, which people equate with healthy eating. So even though more people are reading labels and checking the Nutrition Facts panel, the demand for natural sweeteners persists. People want to reduce added sugars, yet when they choose a sweetened product, they want it to be sweetened naturally.
In a world where the majority of consumers claim they are trying to limit or avoid sugar in their diet, how do you continue to develop products that taste good and have appealing labels? You also have to consider that as people reduce sugar consumption – and market figures are showing a downward trend in retail sales – their sweet perception will change. What once seemed pleasantly sweet may seem overly sweet.
One way to reduce added sugars and adjust the sweetness profile of products is to use dried fruit and/or fruit purees. Many people ask Tree Top, do sugars found in fruits and vegetables that have been processed to change the form of the fruit or vegetable (e.g., concentrated fruit and vegetable purees, fruit and vegetable pastes, and fruit and vegetable powders) need to be declared as added sugars on the label?
In the Nutrition Facts label final rule (81 FR 33742 at 33833), FDA explained that they excluded from the definition of “added sugars” whole fruit, fruit pieces, dried fruit, pulps, and purees because they are nutrient rich and maintain the basic properties of a fruit when added to foods and are not considered to contain added sugars (see response to comment 208, 81 FR 33742 at33835). They also explained that sugars from 100 percent fruit and vegetable juices, and sugars from certain fruit and vegetable juice concentrates used towards the total juice percentage label declaration under certain regulations, fruit juice concentrates used to formulate the fruit component of jellies, jams, and preserves under their standards of identity, and 100 percent juice concentrate sold directly to consumers (e.g. frozen orange juice concentrate) are excluded from the definition of “added sugars.” Guidelines can be found at www.fda.gov/FoodGuidances.
And, let’s face it, most consumers would much rather see fruit on a label than sugar or some other sweetener. Fruit offers not only sweetness but also nutritional benefits.
Sure, there are lots of natural sweetening options including sugar, but with fruit you get natural sweetness, a healthy halo and a nutritional boost. To find out more about reducing added sugars using fruit ingredients, visit our application page, or contact us at 509-698-1435.