Sugar reduction meets clean label in soft drinks

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DUIVEN, THE NETHERLANDS — The “clean label” trend is affecting the soft drink category globally, leading to more interest in natural sweeteners such as stevia and a backlash against ingredients perceived to be “artificial,” according to an Innova Market Insights report issued May 17. Also, sugar taxes have intensified the global focus on obesity and sugar intake in reduced sugar and diet drinks, according to the report.

The Innova report comes six days after the International Food Information Council Foundation released its 2016 Food and Health Survey, which found an increasing number of consumers saying they were trying to limit or avoid certain artificial sweeteners.

“Placing tax on unhealthy life choices such as tobacco and alcohol has been seen for many years,” said Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Duiven-based Innova. “Its arrival in the food and drinks industry and its focus on sugar has been much more controversial but has certainly generated debate.

“The interest in sugar reduction has combined with the ongoing emphasis on clean labeling to boost the use of natural sweeteners in particular, with more sophisticated blends developed for specific applications increasingly in evidence.”

A 2015 Innova Market Insights survey found that in the United States sugar content influenced the purchasing decision of soft drinks for 57% of consumers. In the United Kingdom, where a sugar tax will go into effect in 2018, the percentage was 60%. In Mexico, where a sugar tax already is in place, the percentage was 57%.

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By Jeff Gelski for Food Business News