Consumers are looking for ways to get and/or stay healthy, especially given the rise in obesity and diabetes. They are increasingly aware of the varieties of sweeteners being used, and the perceptions that come with them. According to Glanbia Nutritionals, more than half of global consumers are looking to replace conventional food products such as chocolate with high protein, low-sugar alternatives. However, many are torn between great taste and reducing sugar.
Snacks are moving beyond their discretionary roles, according to consumer trend forecaster WGSN, to serve a ‘new purpose as functional sustenance’ throughout the day. Snacks are consumers’ top choice for flavour exploration, and this is particularly true for younger consumers. Gen Z’s interest in snacks with ‘authentic global flavours’ doubled from 20% in 2019 to 40% in 2020. In the UK, Munchachos is one such example of a young brand encouraging children to diversify their plates with snacks inspired by global cuisines. Designed by a nutritionist, its crisp range includes flavours such as Long Tong Noodles (China), Cha Cha Chips (Mexico), Take Tzat (Greece), and Fusilli Cia Chows (Italy).
According to the WHO, sugar consumption per day should not exceed 50g of sugar or 10% of energy intake. Global manufacturers are responding to these trends by innovating with sugar reduction. Nine per cent of all food and drink launches in 2020 had no/low/reduced sugar and/or calorie claims.
Sugar reduction is a balancing act between nutrition and taste but reducing sugar without losing taste can be difficult whilst also minimising the impact on mouthfeel, bulk, texture, and browning. These are the technical challenges snack manufacturers are racing to conquer as the demand from consumers continues to increase, and investment in people and skills is required across the supply chain.
Paul Don, Director of Ingredients and Flavours at Connect Search recently commented on leadership demand in the ingredients sector. “Greater consumer demand for low sugar snacking options has led to a sharp rise in recruitment at the leadership level, with the leading ingredients groups looking for candidates with specific sugar reduction experience in Innovation, NPD and sales and commercial positions.”