For our monthly insights digest
As much as we are programmed to love sugar, we all know that when consumed in excess, it can negatively affect our health. The pandemic has also added to the shift in consumer behavior, with evidence that comorbidities such as obesity and diabetes could lead to more severe COVID-19 outcomes.
Sugar has a bittersweet relationship with our health. It occurs naturally in foods that contain carbohydrates, and since our body digests these foods slowly, sugar acts as a steady supply of energy. On the other hand, processed sugar is added to several food products. Too much of it can result in consuming excess calories, leading to weight gain and other serious health issues.
Since the body cannot distinguish between natural or processed sugars, the World Health Organization (WHO) has designated any sugar added to food as a “free sugar”. Their advisory states that consumption of free sugars should be kept to less than ten percent of the daily energy intake, i.e. approximately 12.5 teaspoons.
The issue today is that free sugar is everywhere. It is used to impart sweetness, as a preservative, and to alter attributes such as the texture, color, body, and browning capability of food.
With several nations imposing additional taxes and restrictions on the use of sugar, the food and beverage industry is inventing new approaches to introduce low-sugar formulations, allowing the global sugar reduction market to grow at a significant rate.
While creating alternatives to sugar brings its own set of challenges, such as retaining the sweet flavor that consumers are accustomed to, manufacturers are using more and more innovative solutions to maintain and increase their customer base. These include:
Beyond retaining sweetness, sugar reduction efforts may entail combining several technologies to retain textual properties, preservation, and yield.
Driven by this growing demand for more natural health products, food and beverage companies have placed sugar reduction at the center of product innovation. Contact us to learn more about our sugar-reduction solutions.
Anne Tan is Senior Manager of Business Development for Food and Beverage Ingredients Asia Pacific, Performance Materials, based in Kuala Lumpur.