Food and manufacturers have been in a limbo as the FDA extended the deadline for complying with the new nutrition facts panel requirements to a date not yet confirmed.
This has not stopped food and beverage manufacturers from preparing early, and even rethinking the way they formulate their products—the FDA’s wishes aside, US consumers are on a quest to reduce sugar. According to a survey by Leatherhead Food Research, 48% of US consumers are trying to eat less sugar, a top diet goal with more than double the responses to second-place ‘eating less meat.’
How the FDA defines ‘added sugars’
According to this FDA webpage, which summarizes points from recent draft guidance, added sugars include "sugars that are either added during the processing of foods, or are packaged as such, and include sugars (free, mono- and disaccharides), sugars from syrups and honey, and sugars from concentrated fruit or vegetable juices that are in excess of what would be expected from the same volume of 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice of the same type. The definition excludes fruit or vegetable juice concentrated from 100 percent fruit juice that is sold to consumers (e.g. frozen 100 percent fruit juice concentrate) as well as some sugars found in fruit and vegetable juices, jellies, jams, preserves, and fruit spreads."
A more technical definition from the FDA can be found HERE.
“The perception is changing already even before the label comes into effect,” Abigail Storms, VP global platform leader of sweeteners at Tate & Lyle, told FoodNavigator-USA at the recent IFT food expo in Las Vegas. “It has clearly raised the profile of sugar, and consumers are looking more at added sugar or sugar on a label, probably the same amount as they’re looking at calories.”
Her company is one of the few that is pushing the use a rare sugar called allulose to help manufacturers reduce the amount of sugar they need to put in a product without sacrificing taste. However, the ingredient will still be classified as an ‘added sugar’ under the new FDA rule, even though it has near zero calories and does not raise blood glucose or insulin levels.
For manufacturers of sweeteners derived from stevia and monkfruit, considered dietetically ‘zero calorie,’ the added sugar label is seen as an opportunity to market these non-caloric sweeteners to food and beverage manufacturers trying to adapt to changing consumer preferences.
Layn USA, the stateside subsidiary of China-based, Shenzhen Stock Exchange-listed Guilin Layn Natural Ingredients, forecasts more interest in sweeteners from stevia and monkfruit because of the nutrition facts panel changes. “Both sweeteners are low-calorie and FDA GRAS…and diabetic-friendly,” said Elaine Yu, president of Layn USA. “So we see this as a great opportunity for this market to grow faster than ever before.”