Sugar Reduction technology: What are your options?
When we asked people working in the dairy industry to share some of their major concerns, one of the most interesting and repetitive responses we got was reducing sugar content without compromising on the actual product.
They don’t want to reduce sugar by adding starch for maintaining bulk effect or using something at the cost of mentioning it on a label list which consumers are skeptical about.
If you are unable to use sugar alternatives because of some unwanted effects and have done a fair bit of research at this point corresponding to multiple ingredients for reducing sugar, then you might already be aware of the challenge – how to pick the best solution for reducing sugar in the end product?
Sugar Reduction – A Challenge
It’s a challenge as the alternatives that help in reducing sugar come at a certain cost. These alternatives/substitutes can have an impact on any or more of the following –
Sugar is sometimes used as a masking agent in certain foods. On reducing the sugar content, the flavor profile of such food items gets disturbed. Moreover, certain substitutes used for sugar have an unpleasant aftertaste, which spoils the overall flavor.
Beyond sweetness, sugar also adds content to food items. Therefore, replacing sugar with other sweeteners turns out to be a major challenge — because, the majority of the alternates used are required in small quantities and do not add any content or bulking effect to the food items.
Color and Aroma
On the application of heat, the sugar caramelizes or undergoes a Maillard reaction that leads to browning in the presence of proteins. This imparts the golden brown color and pleasant aroma to baked goods. For alternate sweeteners, this reaction does not take place and baked items do not exhibit this characteristic color and aroma.
Most of the sugar substitutes do not form a stable mixture with food items such as beverages. This instability poorly impacts the shelf-life of such food items.
The texture and mouth-feel offered by sugar are difficult to be mimicked using substitutes and eventually, sugar reduction varies the texture/mouth-feel of the food items leading to unsatisfied consumers.
So you see how sugar reduction is a risky business?
The dilemma of how to reduce sugar content without sacrificing flavor and negatively affecting product sales is challenging, as sugar plays an important role in foods and beverages, not only in terms of flavor, but also in texture, color, viscosity, and a happy consumer.
So, what should you do then?
Well, different types of mechanisms are being researched/deployed for reducing sugar content.
Two of the most popular being sugar substitutes and sugar modification ( which tackles some of the issues we discussed)
Now, let’s find out what differentiates one from another.
Different Mechanisms Deployed for Sugar Reduction
|Sugar Substitutes||Sugar Modification|
|One of the most prominent methods of reducing sugar content is to replace the sugar with alternative sweeteners such as Stevia, Sugar Alcohols, Allulose, etc. However, most of the alternate sweeteners come with their own set of challenges such as bitter aftertaste, or lingering flavor profile. Sometimes these also impact the functional properties such as bulking, browning, or caramelizing (needed for adding flavors and texture) and thus, their usage is also limited in certain products.||Sugar reduction can also be done via modifying the sugar (either milk sugars or added sugars). This technique includes modifying the structure of existing sweeteners to achieve the desired nutritional and tastes properties. These solutions might also work on blocking certain taste receptors to mask and/or amplify sugary tastes. Thus reducing the need for added sugars.|
Now, allow me to shed some light on the various ways of sugar reduction –
Sugar substitutes or sweeteners too can be categorized into a couple of types, each with its own set of benefits. Let’s look briefly into them.
Types of Sweeteners
|High-Intensity Sweeteners||Bulk Sweetener|
|They possess a sweet taste but are non-caloric, provide essentially no bulk to food, have greater sweetness than sugar. Therefore, used at very low levels.||Ingredients that are about as sweet as sugar and that takes up about the same amount of volume are called bulk sweeteners. Bulk, as they, just like sugar, have a relatively low sweetness in relation to their weight and volume and is therefore needed in larger amounts.|
Example: Aspartame, Sucralose
Examples: Sucrose, Molasses, Honey and Maple Syrup, Glucose, Fructose
Examples: Neohespiridine dihydrochalcone
Examples: Sorbitol, Xylitol, Allulose
Examples: Fruit sugars, Stevioside, Glycyrrhizin, Thaumatin
Which one do you choose?
I agree, all this information isn’t enough to decide. With the ongoing research in this niche, it couldn’t be enough. Consequently, you would want to find out more, before picking the right candidate for your end products to retain the same taste with reduced sugar.
The good news is we hear ya (Not literally, metaphorically).
You want more information and we have decided to be your insights Santa from now on. That’s why we created a detailed report covering a substantial analysis of sugar reduction. This report will help you design your own analysis and help pick the best available reduced sugar solution for your company. Want to get your hands on that report?
Fill in your details in the form below and we’ll deliver the copy directly to your inbox!