Sweeteners - a functional alternative to sugar?

Jenny Arthur presented at the IFST’s Nutrition meeting on sweeteners focusing on the functional properties of sugars

So, what are consumers looking for?

Based on Kantar data, 73% of respondents are trying to lead a healthier lifestyle and 68% said their diet was important to them. Take home shopping baskets have become healthier in the last five years with sugar consumption showing the most decline. Health drives one-third of home consumption but convenience and enjoyment are still the key drives. Nutrition concerns are high and have an impact on purchasing with saturated fat being top of the list, closely followed by sugars, then sodium and artificial sweeteners. The data also supports other evidence that low income families have the least healthy shopping baskets.

Balancing the different inputs into new and existing product development or development of specific ingredients can be challenging. Often there are the competing demands of marketing teams and technical or R&D teams which need to be reconciled. Access to an independent, trusted and experienced third-party innovator can be valuable to expedite your product development results.

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What are the reformulation solutions when using sweeteners?

It is not as straight forward as just replacing the sugars in products with sweeteners, the functionality of sugars in a product is key to understanding what you can replace sugar with. There are a lot of sweeteners out there as alternatives to sugars however none of them are perfect and often bulk and intense sweeteners need to be blended.

For more information on new and emerging ingredients, you can watch a recording of our most recent webinar.

Key Government nutrition documents coming out this/next year to take notice of:

  • Sugars reduction year 2 monitoring report (summer 2019)
  • Chief Medical Officer’s report on reducing childhood obesity due out in September 2019
  • National Food Strategy (June 2020) – a government review of England’s food system from field to fork
  • Possible childhood obesity plan chapter 3 (maybe in 2020)

What are the possible implications?

  • Further advertising/promotion/sponsorship restrictions
  • Restrictions for licensed/brand equity characters on pack
  • Extension to sugar taxation to include sugary milk-based drinks and confectionary
  • Firmer labelling plans

Sugars reformulation is still high on the government and food industry agenda and will continue to be so, sweeteners are just one approach to meeting the reformulation challenges.


Jenny Arthur, Head of Nutrition and Membership

If you have any questions, please contact [email protected] or call us on  +44 (0)1372 376761