Research highlights US demand for better tasting sugar alternatives



Taste is king with American consumers, who, according to new research, shy away from a wide range of consumer products containing low-calorie, high-intensity sweeteners because they feel they do not measure up to sugar.

The research comes from a national attitudinal survey conducted among 529 American consumers, 18 years or over, conducted in September 2020 by Marketplace, a health and wellness marketing company. The survey was done for BioNeutra North America Inc, a company that develops and manufactures its product VitaFiber® IMO – a lower-calorie sweetener with a sugar-like taste and mouthfeel that can mask the aftertaste of high-intensity sweeteners and that offers a smooth texture, as well as providing health benefits.

For the food and beverage industry concerned with sugar reduction strategies, the survey provides valuable data on consumer attitudes towards products such ice cream, chocolates, baked goods, snacks, soda, candy, protein bars and sports drinks. Ice cream offers the industry the biggest growth opportunity; 40% of respondents said they would eat more calorie-reduced ice cream if manufacturers used alternative sweeteners that tasted and felt more like sugar. The respondents found the low-calorie sweeteners provided both an unsatisfactory taste and texture.

Consumers also indicated that sugar alternatives that require flavour masking and bulking agents to counteract a lingering aftertaste or lack of mouthfeel do not match their desire for natural and plant-based ingredients. When compared to sugar, more than half of consumers who buy low-calorie sweeteners feel they do not measure up. Nearly half of those consumers felt the sweeteners failed the taste test and simply did not taste like sugar.

Below outlines how the consumers described their concerns about low-calorie sweeteners in general:

  • 43.3% unnatural flavour;

  • 41.8% unpleasant aftertaste;

  • 39.4% do not have the right level of sweetness.

Close to two thirds of consumers surveyed (60.59%) feared that ice cream including low-calorie sweeteners would have an unpleasant aftertaste; 57.7% expected it would disappoint them and not offer the right level of sweetness and 51.8% expressed a concern about texture. BioNeutra’s vice president of Sales and Marketing, Sheri O’Brien, said: “In our industry the senses rule. Taste and texture are critical.” She continued: “We’re proud of our award-winning lead product. It’s well-suited to be a formulator’s novel ingredient because of its seven key benefits. It provides the right level of sweetness (42% of honey), has great mouthfeel (sugar-like texture) no bitter aftertaste, masks high-intensity sweeteners, bulks, binds and can be heated to 160 degrees C.”

For more details about BioNeutra’s sweetener, visit: www.bioneutra.ca/reduced-sugar-low-calorie.