Sugar reduction is not a trend, it’s a long-term lifestyle change.
And it’s a necessary change. The USDA's Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting added sugar to less than 10% of our total daily calories.1,2 In a 2,000-calorie diet, no more than 200 calories should come from added sugars (about 12 teaspoons). However, Americans get about 13% of their total calories from added sugars, and children and young adults between 2 and 19 years consume up to 17 teaspoons of added sugar daily, on average.
Our sugar habit is impacting more than our health; it has significant economic ramifications. Take diabetes, for example: 11% of Americans have diabetes and 21% are undiagnosed. The annual cost of undiagnosed diabetes has reached $227 billion dollars.3
In efforts to reduce sugar consumption and help organizations improve the health and wellbeing of all people, governments are rolling out education interventions and new mandates, and these are creating consumer awareness, changing habits, and reshaping food and beverage sectors from sodas and ice creams to sports nutrition.
On a global level, the Australia Asia-Pacific region may have the largest percentage of sugar reduction claims, but North America is the fastest growing market. Here, one-third of respondents from a 2022 survey said their predominant approach to healthy eating was to limit or reduce products and ingredients that they perceive as bad for them, including sugar.5
The growing demand for no- or low- sugar products represents huge opportunities for manufacturers to innovate and reformulate, and many already are; between 2019-2021, over 300 new product launches carried low-sugar claims, of which one-fifth were beverages. It’s unsurprising that the global sugar substitutes market is expanding, forecast to grow at a CAGR of 5.2% between 2022 and 2032 to US $29.62 billion.6
The demand for reduced sugar products is clearly there, and the market is buoyant. So, what are the hurdles for Consumer-Packaged Goods (CPG) manufacturers and, crucially, how can they overcome them?
A tailored approach to sweeteners
Reducing sugar is a complex science. In addition to sweetness, sugar provides critical characteristics including flavor, mouthfeel, texture, bulk, browning, and heat stability.
In order to successfully remove or reduce sugar, CPG formulators and R&D teams require access to a variety of sweeteners and taste modulators that can satisfy sensorial attributes. Additionally, they require a comprehensive understanding of which sweetener works best for a given application and the necessary formula modifications needed.
From an operational perspective, effective sugar reduction strategies rely on a dependable supply chain and cost-effective solutions from a sweetener provider with established supplier partnerships. This ensures product availability, addresses unexpected volume adjustments and urgent needs, and minimizes costs to the fullest extent possible.
This is where Apura Ingredients is able to leverage its expertise in sugar reduction and formulation modifications to help manufacturers deliver a product that tastes as good as, or better than, its full-sugar counterpart. As one of the largest distributors of low- and no-calorie sweetener solutions and flavor modulators in North America, Apura Ingredients is committed to delivering health-forward, sustainable solutions to some of the world’s biggest brands.
A five-point strategy for sweetener solutions
CPG manufacturers look to Apura Ingredients for its inherent expertise in sweetener functionality, taste profiles, and how each works – individually or blended – to deliver a sugar-like taste profile that exceeds consumer expectations.
This is approached by a five-point strategy:
- Customer formulation Understanding the product and the goal for reducing or eliminating sugar in the product.
- Sweetener functionality Sweeteners are not one-size-fits-all, and each has ideal application recommendations and blends are often used, in conjunction with taste modulators, to achieve required taste profiles.
- Sweetener assortment Because sweetener recommendation varies based on formulation needs, Apura Ingredients carries the broadest range of low and no-calorie sweeteners, plant-based sweeteners, sweetener blends and proprietary sweeteners.
- Consumer taste expectations This is where ROI determines the success of the product. Every touchpoint is to deliver a product that surpasses consumer expectations.
- Overall cost Sugar is a commodity and sweeteners are not. Apura Ingredients addresses cost through cost-reduction blends, new formulas, and supplier partnerships.
Tackling cost pressures in the sweeteners market
In 2022 Apura Ingredients introduced ten new products, including bulk Low- and No-Calorie Sweeteners (LNCS), high-intensity LNCS, and multifunctional taste modulators with applications across the beverage industry. By working with customers to understand application needs, Apura Ingredients acts as a strategic partner to provide sweetener and taste modulator recommendations that effectively contribute to a superior output of product with potential cost efficiencies along the way.
“Our group has over 100 years’ combined experience in low- and no-calorie sweeteners – we understand the complexity they bring to product development,” says Nancy Hughes, President, Apura Ingredients. “We have expanded our portfolio to bring new solutions to both our long-term partners, as well as to new entrants within into the low- and no-calorie sweeteners segment.
“In addition to this, our specialist teams within flavor, sensory, and product development work together to dial in a combination of complexities to achieve the desired outcome for any given project.”
An innovation-forward company, Apura Ingredients recently launched its proprietary initiative PuraSweet™ Sugar Cost Reduction - SCR3025. PuraSweetTM, a thermally stable sweetness enhancer that replicates the taste of sucrose, results in 30% reduced sugar and calories and up to 25% cost saving on overall sugar spend. It lowers ‘added sugar’ daily value percent and can be labeled a ‘Natural Flavor’, giving customers the edge to hit internal goals for sugar reduction claims while achieving potential cost savings.
Sensorial experience behind sugar reduction
Flavor modulators are traditionally known for masking off-notes associated with plant-based products and high-intensity sweeteners, thereby elevating reduced-sugar products to the next level. But the role of flavor modulators has multiple functional layers, and when synergistically paired with a suitable sweetener, contribute attributes to the overall taste experience by improving mouthfeel, balancing sweetness and enhancing flavor.
Consumers perceive the likeability and enjoyment of food before it hits their tongue. Food and beverage companies developing reduced-sugar products need an understanding that the sensorial experience around scent and aroma is as critical as taste, texture and density. Flavor modulation, therefore, requires a deep understanding of neurogastronomy, gastrophysics, and chemesthesis, and the role each plays in retronasal sensation of taste stimuli. Or an expert in the field who can provide guidance.
In 2021 Apura Ingredients partnered with EPC Natural Products Co, a global leader in taste modulation and the complex science behind it. Today, Apura’s customers can utilize one resource to achieve two key functions in the development of CPG sugar-reduced foods and beverages: sweetness and sensory output.
“Achieving the right balance is an extremely technical and precise process. There is no drop-in solution,” says Dave Douglass, Business Development Manager, Apura Ingredients. “Thanks to EPC’s immense understanding into the factors that influence retronasal sensation, we have been able to combine our portfolios and expertise to create a tool-chest of solutions for our customers.”
Thanks to evolving data and insights from its partnership with EPC, Apura can articulate to its customers the key drivers that consumers use to decide if they will like a food or beverage, and how to optimize formulations to achieve the best results. These include reduced sugar products with enhanced fruitiness and natural flavors, improved mouthfeel, or the reduced bitterness or lingering metallic taste associated with some common sweeteners. In application, this can translate to a creamy ice cream that’s rich in texture and has a balanced sweet flavor, while being lower in calories and sugar.
Expertise in sweeteners
With a history of long-term relationships with global brands, Apura Ingredients is committed to delivering high-quality alternative sweeteners and taste modulators to the food and beverage industry.
Its breadth of expertise spans multiple functions including R&D, commercialization, customer service, supply chain, technical, and global sourcing, all designed to help customers lead the way in formulation development with greater speed to market. And thanks to its supplier partnerships, volume needs and shipping deadlines can be met quickly within environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards.
The need for high-quality, cost-effective, and great-tasting reduced-sugar solutions will continue to grow. By partnering with a solutions provider, CPG manufacturers can embrace evolving lifestyle demands by innovating for taste-cost combinations within the sugar reduction space, and grow with the market.
Apura Ingredients is a member of Calorie Control Council and the International Sweetener Association, advocates for communicating the benefits and documented safety of low- and no-calorie sweeteners as part of an overall healthy lifestyle.
1. How to Tame Your Child's Sweet Tooth: Tips for Parents. Nimali Fernando, MD, MPH, FAAP. American Academy of Pediatrics.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
3. Emerging Wellness Brands | A Look Ahead Nielsen (2022).
4. Mattson webinar via Prepared Foods.
5. Innova Lifestyle & Attitudes Survey 2022.
6. Global Sugar Substitutes Market Insights Forecasts to 2032. Spherical Insights (April 2023).