IFT18: Sucrose Takes On Stevia
It was impossible to walk down any aisle of the IFT18 Food Expo without coming to a booth offering some form of stevia. Stevia for beverage, for dairy, for candy, for baking.
With the vast majority of consumers claiming to read the sugar content on ingredient labels, it is easy to understand the focus on sugar reduction.
YET, the consumption of sucrose has not decreased significantly per the USDA, so why is there this disconnect between theory and practice? Why this supposed demand for stevia by R&D, but not so much by consumers?
We believe the continued steady demand for sucrose is due to 1) Functionality 2) Clean Label, and 3) Lack of Evidence that Low Calorie Sweeteners Reduce Obesity
Sucrose has been and will continue to be the gold standard for sweetness and functionality in food and beverage products. Bakers require sugar for fermenting yeast. Many foods require sugar for bulk. Sucrose and the caramel or browning flavors that can be created from sucrose simply taste great. Though most consumers want reduced sugar products to taste the same; from the many samples I tried, they simply are not as yummy. (And some are simply aweful!)
Once you remove the bulk of sugar and replace it with stevia, other ingredients must be added to replace the mouthfeel and bulk of sugar. Consumers have been showing disdain for long product labels for a while, and that trend is continuing. Additionally, many consumers are ambiguous over whether stevia is a natural or artificial ingredient,
Lack of Evidence that Low Calorie Sweeteners Reduce Obesity
Recent studies have shown that non-nutritive sweeteners may actually increase a person’s craving for sweet, making it more difficult to lose weight and keep it off. If there is no health benefit of consuming food that doesn’t taste as good, then consuming smaller quantities of better tasting products is more satisfying and gives a sense of fullness and satiety more quickly. Paradoxically, this can actually reduce the overall intake of calories.
The Solution: Indulgence
Beverage and confectioners have been 1) reducing the serving sizes of sugar containing options and 2) reducing the sugar and sweetness level without replacement with non-nutritive sweeteners. Eventually the consumer will put aside the diet foods and appreciate sugar containing foods as an indulgence to be enjoyed in smaller quantities.
Sometimes less is more.
Sugaright. Changing the Way You Think About Sugar