Sugar Alternative Trends
With consumers’ increasing focus on reducing or eliminating added sugar from their diets, sugar alternatives have become big business. However, as consumers strive to not only cut sugar but also choose the healthiest ingredients possible, even sugar alternatives are under scrutiny. Shoppers are exploring the safety and healthfulness of the artificial sweeteners in their foods and beverages.
Consumers are cutting back on their sugar consumption for a variety of reasons, including weight loss and health. With headlines claiming that sugar contributes to all sorts of problems such as tooth decay, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease, it’s easy to see why. As “better for you” becomes a significant buzzword phrase, here are some of the hottest trends in sugar alternatives.
Organic continues to make headway
As consumers tap into natural trends, they look for organic versions of everything from produce to meat to dairy products to, yes, sweets. Sugar alternatives are not always packaged chemical concoctions; many consumers, especially those with an eye towards maintaining a more healthful diet, look for the most natural and organic options possible.
- Honey is not only sweet, but it’s also packed with natural health benefits.
- Maple syrup. Maple syrup contains powerful antioxidants, iron, calcium, and other nutrients.
- Applesauce has fewer calories and more fiber than many other sweetening options.
- Other fruits. Bananas, dates, and figs all offer delicious, natural sweetness.
- Molasses is less sweet than sugar and provides calcium, iron, and vitamins.
These are just a few of the natural possibilities and most popular sugar alternatives that the health-conscious consumer is choosing today.
Busy doesn’t have to mean unhealthy
Consumers are busier than ever. Even though cooking has increased in popularity, especially among younger generations, there is still a huge market for convenience foods such as baking mixes, prepared foods, and fruit juice blends–small things that make a consumer’s life just a little bit easier. However, modern shoppers are wising up to the ingredients in their foods and are now demanding both convenience and health.
It’s a tall order, but sugar alternatives make it work. Everything from English muffins to low-calorie beverages to yogurt, popcorn, hot chocolate mixes, and ice cream is getting the sugar-substitute treatment. By the way, cake mixes and brownie mixes remain the most popular baking mixes, so if you aren’t sure where to start with low-sugar products, these items are great choices.
Consumers aren’t big on compromise. That’s why they look for products that allow them to indulge their sweet tooth without breaking the calorie bank. Healthy indulgences are enjoying their time in the spotlight. Sugar-free bakery items such as cakes, pies, fruit and nut butters, and lattes and other beverages are all being recreated without all the added sugar that made them so popular in the first place.
The good news now is that the addition of sugar substitutes and natural flavor ingredients can make these items just as delicious as ever without the sugar and extra calories. People living with diabetes also enjoy low-sugar or sugar-free indulgences with other natural and artificial sweeteners such as cookies, pound cakes, muffins, and eclairs—calorie-free or lower-calorie sugar alternatives are their only sources of sweetness.
There’s a lot of crossover when marketing healthier alternatives to traditional indulgences. Consumers want to have their cake and eat it, too, and they can with brands that address multiple health concerns at once.
GMOs are one trend that have come under the average consumer’s microscope. That means that food brands would be wise to experiment with non-GMO and sugar-free versions of their most popular treats. We’re seeing non-GMO and low-sugar or no-sugar products that include flour, baking mixes, snack foods, and sugar alternatives themselves. Many other popular products are getting a non-GMO and lower-calorie makeover as well such as granola bars and flour alternatives.
It’s worth noting that some of the most successful products are not only free from GMOs and sugar but also from other controversial ingredients such as gluten, soy, and artificial colors that today’s health-conscious consumer strives to avoid. It’s a great time to experiment with formulating foods that steer clear of these less-popular ingredients.
The rising awareness of sugar’s negative health effects along with the skyrocketing obesity problem (and the health conditions that it causes) means that sugar substitutes are increasingly replacing sugar in all types of foods and beverages. Alternative sweeteners are generally considered a stronger option for people with diabetes and helpful for consumers who are trying to reach or maintain a healthy weight. Now is a great time to explore your options for creating delicious sugar alternatives that consumers of all preferences and dietary restrictions can enjoy.