Reducing sugar the smart way

Colourful sugary candy heart shape background

Multicolored Macaroons. Patisserie Stock Photo.

Who doesn’t love chocolate, ice cream or sweet beverages? We all do, but what about the included sugar. How does this fit to the ever increasing awareness for a healthy nutrition. Well, it doesn’t. However, Brenntag Food & Nutrition is aware of the challenges that come along with the development of less sugar in food and drinks and we have the solutions to master these challenges.

In a guideline that the World Health Organization (WHO) published in 2015 it recommends a reduced intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake.[1] It is proven that high sugar diets and lack of regular activity cause obesity and serious diseases.[2] As a result of the WHO publication some countries have taken regulatory actions like the United Kingdom in 2018 by taxing the soft drink industry for total sugar content over 5g per 100ml.[3] Since the publication Norway, South Africa, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are amongst the countries that also introduced a sugar tax or made stricter amendments to existing regulations. In the last two years several countries in Asia-Pacific also introduced a sugar tax on sweetened beverages, like Thailand, Philippines and starting 1st of July 2019 also Malaysia. Other countries have put the focus on educational campaigns or different labeling. All of these actions by governments and food organizations challenge the food industry to reduce the sugar content in all type of food and beverages.

Sugar is much more than just a sweetener. Sugar can also be responsible for the color development in baked goods, the texture of ice cream or the shelf life in marmalades. It is not even only used in sweet products but also in savory applications improving the overall flavor profiles. The unique properties of sugar and the many possibilities to use it make the challenge to reduce its usage even bigger. Challenges that have to be faced are for example that the reduction of sugar in a product might reveal other tastes like bitterness or a change in texture which results in a different mouthfeel for the consumer. There is no universal solution for all type of applications and recipes which makes the technical challenge even more complex.

Our aim: Finding solutions for you

Our Brenntag Food & Nutrition specialists have the knowledge and ingredients to support our customers in the food industry to master these technical challenges and find solutions to reduce sugar while at the same time meeting high expectations regarding naturalness, indulgence and attributes of premium products.

When asked for recommendations by our customers our technical experts always try to understand at first the function of sugar in the specific product formulation. We always consider sugar substitution from different angles – sensory, functional and regulatory aspects as well as consumer preference – and then discuss different options with you to find the best possible solution. A food manufacturer can take different approaches: simply reduce the sugar or introduce a new concept incorporating an additional benefit such as for example fiber enrichment. In both cases our technical experts in our 28 Food Application and Development Centers worldwide have the knowledge to support you in order to offer a choice to the consumers.

Something that can’t be argued is that consumers love the taste of sugar and that there is no other sweetener which can taste the same. In most cases you need a combination of ingredients that replace all the functionalities of the sugar in a recipe. With our knowledge and experience we can help our customers select the best sugar substitution that fits to the product specific matrix and consumer preference while drawing from a full range of high intensity sweeteners and bulk sweeteners and other alternatives such as fibers. Our Food & Nutrition experts present and discuss different options to you in order to find the best fit for the specific needs of your target group, the uniqueness of the new product formulation and how best to communicate it to the market.

Besides the technical challenges in such an endeavor the industry also faces a lot of regulatory challenges, especially in regards to labeling. The Brenntag Food & Nutrition team is there to guide you through these regulations – as we not only have the technical but also regulatory expertise in all sub segments of the industry. For example there are various ways to label products where sugar substitution was done – be it “low sugars”, “sugar-free” or “with no added sugars”. We always combine the best available functionalities with the preferred declaration on the label to bring the best out of your product and transmit the correct message to the consumer. For us it is important to give transparent, clear and complete information to enable the consumer to make a qualified choice.

Sweet Red and White Peppermint Candy in a Bowl

  • [1] World Health Organization, Guideline: Sugars intake for adults and children, (Geneva: World Health Organization, 2015), Page 4.
  • [2] World Health Organization, Guideline: Sugars intake for adults and children, (Geneva: World Health Organization, 2015), Page 1
  • [3] Innova Market Insights, Briefing Series Sugar: Regulation Approaches, (Innova Market Insights, 2016), Page 26