Talk of sugar and its effects has been everywhere this year and consumer behaviour is beginning to change. What can confectioners do to adapt?
In 2016 sugar has been a hot topic in the UK. Public Health England estimates the average child aged 4-10 consumes over 22kgs of sugar a year (source: The Guardian). Campaigners, including celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, have been pushing hard for the government to intervene and control the rising issue of sugar consumption.
This lobbying has led to a sugar tax on soft drinks, which will be introduced in 2018. The fear for manufacturers of high sugar products in other sectors, such as confectionery, is that this will have a knock-on effect to consumer behaviour. And this isn’t the case only in the UK, research from Mintel shows that sugar’s current bad press is already impacting behaviour across Europe, with up to 63% of consumers already saying they are actively reducing the amount of sugary foods in their diet (source: Mintel).
Furthermore, if this legislation was applied to other high sugar markets then the challenge for manufacturers would be even greater, especially where sugar is fundamental to texture and bulk as well as taste.All of this begs the question, what can confectionery manufacturers do to pre-empt this shift in consumer behaviour?
Sweets without the sweet
As things stand sugar is an integral part of the confectionery industry, with a large proportion of sweets still using sugar as their base. In 2015 there were 1,304 new confectionery products launched in the EU, of which just 74 were low or no sugar (source: Mintel). With the growing trend in consumer’s behaviour towards avoiding sugar there is a clear space in the market for more exciting and interesting big name brands with low sugar alternatives.
All about flavour
Consumers want to reduce their sugar intake, but not at the expense of taste and experience. Removing sugar and replacing it with sweeteners can change the flavour profile of the product but effective and creative application of flavourings can help to keep flavours consistent.
We asked our senior flavourist, Danny Kite, for his thoughts on reducing sugar content. “Reduction in sugar levels is something that will be brought into sharp focus over the next couple of years. Simply removing it from the formulation of a successful product is not as straight forward as it may seem.”
“Sugar not only brings sweetness and calories but mouthfeel and flavour enhancement as well. This is something that is well understood by food technicians and flavourists alike and together we have strived to help replicate full sugar products with sugar reduced or even sugar free facsimiles.”
Sweeteners, whether they are artificial or not, have their own flavour and mouth feel. Simply using them as direct replacements for sugar can and will influence the flavour of the product. However, flavourings can be used to reduce this effect, by helping to simulate the mouth feel of sugar or masking unwanted flavour notes in the sweeteners.
For more information on how we can help you reduce sugar without sacrificing flavour then get in touch.