Sugar Alternatives in Ice Cream and Confectionery
Indulging in a little guilty pleasure now and again will always keep consumers happy, but trends today require that brands stay focused on healthy alternatives. Sugar creeps into the diet where people least expect it. For example, ketchup, peanut butter, salad dressing, and bread contain sugar. The average American may consume 152 pounds of sugar a year, compared to two pounds a year 200 years ago!
As consumers become cognizant of the health risks due to too much sugar in their diets, they are looking for ways to keep their sweet indulgences but not overdo it.
A Delicate Balance
It is not so easy to replace sugar with alternatives. Consumers are turning their backs on artificial sweeteners. The lifestyle trends lean heavily towards natural and nutritious. As brands introduce natural ingredients to replace sugar in their products, they have to stay focused on taste and texture. Consumers reject bitter aftertastes associated with alternatives, no matter how healthy they are.
A bright spot in sugar alternatives is Stevia, which comes from a South American plant. The Stevia leaves produce a potent and sweet-tasting compound, and once purified, acts as a sweetener in foods. By itself, Stevia can have a bitter or lingering aftertaste, which is why companies are blending it with other naturally-derived sweeteners to reduce the sugar but keep the pleasurable taste that sugar provides.
One highly successful ice cream brand combined Stevia with cane sugar, reduced the calories, increased the protein, focused on delicious flavors, and became as popular as traditional ice cream.
Sweet Alternatives to Confectionery
The market expects demand to grow, especially among millennials and centennials, for sugar alternatives in all products, but the taste and texture will have to remain a top priority. As snack bars, confectionery, baked goods, and other sweets develop guilt-free alternatives, claims like no added sugar, low sugar, and sugar-free will continue to rise. Other naturally derived sweeteners such as erythritol, xylitol, and monk fruits are ingredients supporting sugar reduction while improving texture and mouthfeel. Brands will have to walk a tight rope to reduce sugar and keep the taste and texture demanded by consumers for their favorite treats.
What Consumers Want
Consumers are backing off ingredients such as high-fructose corn syrup, corn starch, cellulose, and modified corn starch. They are looking at labels for ingredients they understand and respect. As brands look for alternatives to reduce sugar, consumers will respond to vanilla or sugar-free vanilla with bourbon to sweeten the product. Consumers enjoy coconut, and there are very few in the world that won’t delight in cocoa in any product.