Sugar Reduction in the Food and Beverage Industry

A recent survey from CivicScience found that the number of consumers concerned about added and total amounts of sugar in their foods grew between the years 2015 and 2016. As research on the health implications of added sugar grows, so does consumer awareness of the issue. Over consumption of fructose, commonly found in added sugars, has been shown to cause serious health problems including hypertension, obesity, and diabetes. With an increased awareness of added sugars, what are the implications of sugar reduction in the food and beverage industry?

As awareness of added sugar’s health effects increases, work is being done at the local and federal level to cut back on sugar intake. In 2014, Berkeley, California became the first U.S. city to pass a soda tax. In 2016, Philadelphia also passed a soda tax, making it the first major U.S. city to do so. Since then, a total of seven cities and one county have passed taxes on soda. Furthermore, new federal dietary guidelines recommend one’s added sugar consumption not exceed 10 percent of one’s daily calorie intake. The FDA’s new format for the Nutrition Facts label, announced in May of 2016, mandates the listing of added sugars beneath total sugars.

Greater consumer awareness and government intervention in sugar consumption have ushered in significant change to the food and beverage industry. Major food and beverage manufacturers, such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Dr. Pepper, are looking into alternative sweeteners to replace conventional added sugars like beet sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Some of the leading alternative sweeteners include stevia, erythritol, honey, agave, monk fruit, organic cane sugar, rice and tapioca syrups, and coconut sugar. Additionally, methods of reducing sugar content other than through alternative sweeteners have emerged. Nestle, for example, plans to reduce the amount of sugar in its confectionary products by up to 40 percent using a proprietary method of reformulating sugar.

Consumers are becoming more aware of added sugar’s harm to health. Consequently, local and federal governments are intervening to reduce sugar intake. In response, the food and beverage industry has made efforts to reduce sugar content, such as through use of alternative sweeteners. Given the widespread health and policy implications of the issue, sugar reduction will be more than just a passing trend for the food and beverage industry.



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