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A systems approach to formulating for sugar reduction

With the spotlight on health and wellness across the food and beverage industry, sugar reduction remains a hot topic. This is one food trend that is both popular with consumers and supported by government initiatives and regulations. As regulatory actions, including additional taxes or special labeling, related to excess sugar in food and beverages increase, combined with general consumer concern regarding sugar intake, the food and beverage industry is responding.

reduced sugar beverages flavored water

Consumers continue to demand products with reduced sugar levels

Product launch data from the Innova Database shows clear trends in sugar reduction claims such as sugar-free, low sugar and no sugar added over the last ten years.

In the US, the overall food and beverage industry has been reliably launching products with a strong compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.4%.

During this same timeframe, product launches with a sugar claim have been outpacing the general launch numbers, with a CAGR of 8.4% - indicating that sugar claims hold some additional value.

market data sugar reduction product launches

Meeting Customer Expectations about Food Texture

Consumers consider texture whenever they eat or drink, they just may not realize it. For example, they may categorize a beverage as “refreshing” but not necessarily break down the drinking experience into textural attributes such as low mouth coating, high mouth clearing and low cohesiveness. They instead may focus on attributes that have more common consumer terms such as those associated with the flavor, sweetener systems and carbonation.

When a new product enters a marketplace where a product with a recognizable texture already exists, the new product must have a texture that is either similar to the existing product or innovative enough to provide market distinction in the eyes of the consumer. This same concept can certainly be applied to the reduction or removal of sugar because of sugar’s functionalities beyond providing sweetness profile.

Sugar Provides More than Just Sweetness to Beverages

Reformulating full sugar products for sugar reduction or elimination can pose a number of challenges. Replacing sugar with natural or artificial sweeteners not only affects sweetness perception but also affects the body, mouthfeel and viscosity of beverages.

Role of Sugar in Beverages
Functionality Flavor Attributes
Body Flavor Profile 
Mouth Coating Flavor Release

Often more than one ingredient must be used to mimic all the functionalities sugar contributes to a beverage. Food and beverage developers often make use of sweeteners to achieve the ideal taste and texturizers to help build body and mouthfeel. The addition of one or more gums can replicate a recognizable full-sugar mouthfeel, while minimally impacting the consumer experience.

market data reduced sugar claim hydrocolloids

Clear Communication Speeds Product Development

In order to have more effective communication during the product development process, we have compiled a lexicon of terms called the Food Texture Terminology to standardize the way product texture is described. This allows our food scientists to deconstruct terms like “creamy” into individual texture attributes such as mouth coating, cohesiveness and mixes with saliva to help determine the specific attributes most important to our customers. With these individual attributes defined, we can pinpoint the best product and the perfect use level to create or enhance what is desired.

Defining the texture target early in product development can speed up the process. Texture terms including mouth coating, viscosity and astringency are often considered when formulating for reduced sugar beverages.

Texture Terms in Sugar Reduction Applications
Attribute Description Examples (low/high)
Mouth Coating Degree to which mouth surfaces are coated after swallowing or expectorating water dessert gel vs creamy peanut butter
Viscosity Rate of flow per unit force: the force to draw between lips from spoon, and the rate of flow across tongue water vs sweetened condensed milk
Astringency The feeling on the tongue or other skin surfaces of the oral cavity described as puckering/dry and associated with tannins or alum yellow American cheese vs strong brewed tea

Market Data Supports Acceptability of Hydrocolloids for Sugar Replacement

Even though consumers are more critical of the ingredients on food labels than ever before, the same data that shows overall product launches have steadily increased. Products with a sugar claim that contain a hydrocolloid have been growing at an incredible 10.2%.

Systems Approach to Sugar Reduction

Determining the proper levels of sweetener and hydrocolloid necessary to replace the functionality of sugar in a beverage can be time-consuming and complicated. The Gum Gurus designed Simplistica™ BV 0358 ingredient system to target challenges associated with formulating for sugar reduction or elimination. The ingredient system is an optimized combination of a single ingredient hydrocolloid and a natural sweetener.

The texture component is derived from acacia sap and reclaims mouthfeel, body and texture that can be lost due to sugar replacement. Acacia provides excellent film-forming properties, which contributes to texture and mouthfeel in reduced-sugar applications. Additionally, TIC Gums offers Non-GMO Project Verified and USDA organic acacia products which are perfect for someone looking to create a product that aligns with the current clean label movement.

The sweetener component is made from stevia leaf steviol glycosides. This high-purity, next generation stevia sweetener has significantly less bitterness and aftertaste than conventional stevia sweeteners.

Sensory Test Confirms Simplistica™ BV 0358

Descriptive sensory analysis was used to confirm the suitability of Simplistic BV 0358 ingredient system in a reduced sugar beverage. Overall, the sensory profile of the flavored water beverage using Simplistica™ BV 0358 with 50% reduced sugar resulted in a sensory match to the full sugar control.

sensory profile reduced sugar beverage

Systems from TIC Gums: more than just ingredient functionality

Simplistica ingredient systems take the guess work out of reformulating. Our Gum Gurus work to create ingredient systems at the perfect ratio, so food and beverage developers are able to forego traditional troubleshooting that delays their speed to market.

By utilizing a fully functional ingredient system from TIC Gums, formulators are able to make use of the expertise of the Gum Gurus and reduce the challenges commonly associated with creating free-from formulations that deliver an enjoyable eating or drinking experience.

Learn more about formulating reduced sugar beverages with Simplistica BV 0358

Call on the Gum Gurus®

Our Gum Gurus are available to help you formulate for functionality or specific label claim goals, including reduced sugar, organic, and non-GMO. To speak with a Gum Guru about your specific texture, stability and nutrition needs, call our technical service hotline at hotline +1-800-899-3953 / +1-410-273-7300 or chat live online.