Clean Label Sugar Reduction in Baked Goods & Bars


Not too long ago, bars made from granola, corn syrup, nuts, and fruit were considered the ultimate healthy food. However, that changed as consumers knowledge of nutrition grew. Today’s consumers are demanding clean label food ingredients that provide substantial health benefits, so formulators are incorporating exotic grains, omega-3 rich seeds, probiotics and prebiotics, protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and energy-boosting ingredients—all of which must be sweetened and bound together naturally while reducing sugar.



Desserts typically contain high amounts of sugar, but what if they didn’t have to? Icon Foods has perfected the process of eliminating sugars from baked goods and replacing them with all natural substitutes. Whether you are looking to clean up your label a bit, or completely eliminate sugars, we can help.

Health is now the number one thing on consumer’s minds and sugar is public enemy number one. Concerns with obesity, diabetes, and trendy diets have everyone constantly checking their labels. This is the reason that Icon Foods takes healthier products so seriously.

Clean labels are growing in popularity but they must contain natural ingredients from the best sources. We only use the best sources and our production team is unmatched. You will not be disappointed choosing Icon Foods to help with your baked goods product line.


Trends in Bars 

Corn syrup—the go-to ingredient of the past—is no longer acceptable in foods bearing natural claims. General Mills’ Nature Valley brand, makers of the first granola bar introduced in 1975, settled a class-action lawsuit initiated by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. In documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (case number 3:12-cv-03919), the plaintiffs accused the company of deceptive marketing of its granola bars and thins as natural when, “they contain or contained, substantial quantities of non-natural, highly processed ingredients, such as HFCS (high fructose corn syrup)” (2).

According to Innova Market Insights, clean labeling and natural processing are the top food trends in 2022, and so is consumers’ desire to avoid sugar (3). This is supported by the NPD Group’s study, which showed that sugar is the primary ingredient consumers are trying to cut out of their diets (1). However, avoiding sugar and corn syrup presents a conundrum for manufacturers—often they are the glue that holds bars together. As developers add more nutritionally and texturally rich ingredients to the mix, stability is challenged.

That glue—in the form of binding syrups and gums—also provides humectancy (i.e., they help the bar stay moist over its shelf life). This is especially important for higher protein bars because water tends to migrate to these protein ingredients from the syrups. Water activity (aw) is also critical to food safety. An aw of less than 0.65 is generally acceptable. The choice of sugar and the final moisture of the binding syrup determine the bar texture. For example, allulose reduces aw and leads to a softer bar. Producers looking for label-friendly binding syrups can use ingredients like allulose, soluble tapioca fiber and FOS. Clean label gums—like gum arabic—can be used to add soluble dietary fiber, which is included in the total measure on the nutritional facts panel.

In the past, bar producers have used binding syrups such as fructose, agave, honey, brown sugar, molasses, and rice. However, all of these have a significant carb and glycemic impact, making them undesirable for consumers. Manufacturers can replace these high carb/high glycemic ingredients by combining healthy, alternative clean label sweeteners. 


Check out our most inclusive sweetening system for baked goods & bars:


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  1. Chojnacki, Robert. “Consumers Are More Concerned with Sugar Than Sodium Intake.” The NPD Group, 20 Oct. 2021,
  2. “Defining ‘Natural’: Class Actions Against Food Labels.”, 5 Oct. 2017,
  3. “‘Shared Planet’ Leads Innova Market Insights’ Top Ten Trends for 2022.” Innova Market Insights, 13 Oct. 2021,