Cane Sugar: Sweetener of Choice for Premium Beverages
A walk down the beverage aisle indicates good news for cane sugar demand. There is an abundance of premium soft drinks with creative packaging, names and varieties proudly announcing, “made with pure cane sugar”.
Reasons for including cane sugar as a primary source of sweetness vary.
A nostalgia for throw-back beverages that appeal to baby-boomers.
A familiar and understandable ingredient.
Perception of being “cleaner” and more natural.
The taste profile continues to remain the gold standard for product developers.
So, what are these innovative beverages that require the pure sweetness and familiarity of cane sugar?
1. Kombucha. A fermented tea with a base carbohydrate that is typically, and traditionally, cane sugar. These also may be back sweetened with cane sugar for a more rounded flavor and to balance out their acidity and tartness.
2. Better-for-you soft drinks with prebiotics. Yes those fancy “pops” that you see taking over shelf space in grocery stores all have cane sugar in them. They are hitting the new magic level of 5 – 40 calories in a 12 oz serving. According to Spins, this is the fastest growing segment of soft drinks. Up over 14% YOY and beating out other non-alcoholic drinks (even diet) for growth.
3. Natural teas. If they are sweet, they are sweetened with cane. The pureness of the flavor, and the traditional use of cane sugar in sweet tea is likely driving this. But even teas that are relatively low on the sweetness scale, are using cane sugar (not beet), and not glucose or fructose.
4. Coffee drinks. Dominated by brands from the coasts, it is hard to find a sweetener other than cane being used in canned coffee drinks. We see organic, and fair trade (coffee and sugar) being co-opted in this space as well. This is likely because innovative coffee drinks start in the café, where simple syrup pumps of cane sugar are standard.
5. Healthier energy drinks. If it says “premium hydration” on the label, you can almost bet they incorporated some cane sugar in the formula. Too many calories from fructose (from fruit juices) doesn’t always provide the satiety that cane provides. Additionally, the acid content from too much fruit juice can be difficult to digest. Cane provides a nice balance to tart flavors, and can give density to the palate, hydrate and be filling. Ultimately leading to more satisfaction.
So we can safely say, cane sugar (still) has the healthy halo in beverages. With a primary growth category in beverages at 5 – 40 calories and premium positioning, it can be forecasted that more beverages will come to the market with a touch of sweet from cane sugar. The perfect indulgence.
The Sugaright Team will be at the International Sweetener Colloquium later this month and we invite you to contact us so we can discuss your application and how we can help you incorporate Sugaright Liquid Sugar into your innovative and delicious beverages.