“Consumers don’t have a common definition of healthy food, but one theme is consistent. Whether they are looking for high protein, low carb, gluten-free or non-GMO, most consumers agree that an easy-to-understand ingredient statement is important.”


Whether your product is a juice, soft drink, coffee, tea, kombucha, powdered or even alcohol, we have the sugar reduction solutions to clean up your label and make it more consumer friendly.

Consumer behavior has completely changed in the beverage industry which in turn has created a demand for products with less sugar. 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 beverage.


Organic Growth for Clear Label holds first place in Innova Market Insights Top Ten Trends list for 2016. While clear label established itself as a key trend in 2015, the market research company calls clean eating an overarching theme in its top 10 list for 2016. In the April 2016 issue of Food Technology magazine, Dr. Elizabeth Sloan called Chemical Consciousness a top trend. She finds that clean label claims have more appeal than general healthy descriptors. Clean labeling is visibly coloring the beverage sector as consumers are steadily moving away from heavily processed caramel colors, unnatural dyes, artificial flavors, and chemically produced sweeteners. Beverage developers are challenged to satisfy the consumers’ appetite for refreshment. In many cases, they must meet sweetness expectations and goals for calorie reduction without using synthetic solutions. Because no two sweeteners perform exactly alike, it’s not a simple substitution. Artificial sweeteners that are used in many low-calorie beverages are present in such small amounts that they do not contribute to texture. Their sole role is

to provide sweetness, but often times they possess a lingering flavor that is off-putting to some. Still some consumers prefer the flavor over the cloying sweetness of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Both

categories are experiencing pushback as consumers favor ingredients that are naturally processed. Sucrose, or table sugar, has a rounded sweetness profile that is the traditional gold standard. Its clean flavor is instantly recognizable, but as important, it provides body that completes the sensory experience. If sugar reduction is the goal, formula adjustments will be required to build mouthfeel. Fructose is sweeter than sucrose. It’s commonly

known as the sugar found in fruits. While it is natural, some consumers may view it negatively because of their acquaintance with HFCS. Honey and agave syrups both have a healthy halo and will impart distinct flavors. Like sucrose and fructose, they will contribute to added sugars, now required by FDA to be listed in the nutritional

facts panel. High intensity, plant-derived sweeteners such as stevia and monk fruit provide a triple win to clean label formulations. Besides supporting a consumer-friendly label, they contribute zero calories. Lastly, they deliver clean flavor. The choice of sweetener will begin with an understanding of the other ingredients in the formula. Stevia is so powerfully sweet that it sometimes lingers. Citric acid, lactic acid or tartaric acid in the beverage system will improve the flavor of stevia by cutting sweetness. A licorice note is often associated with stevia. This characteristic is diminished in the presence of cola, ginger, and root beer flavors. Bitter flavors, such as grapefruit, have a natural masking effect. Inulin or fructooligosaccharides (FOS) can reduce the aftertaste of high-intensity sweeteners with the added benefit of improved mouthfeel. Bulk can be built by adding a natural sugar alcohol

such as erythritol. In its dry form, it has a natural cooling effect. This effect will be less pronounced in a liquid. It

is also non-cariogenic. It adds mild sweetness with zero calories per gram. Hydrocolloids are a neutral choice to build body. Pectin is generally recognized by consumers as an ingredient in grandmother’s pantry. Xanthan and carrageenan gums are accepted by Whole Foods Market, and thereby accepted by most consumers. However, overuse can lead to an undesirable slimy quality. At the right level, the viscosity is increased and astringency is decreased. Even though an ingredient is perceived as natural, FDA does not have a standard definition. Consumers are left to their own interpretations. As they look for products that are minimally processed, they are demanding

transparency about the ingredients used and the manufacturing steps involved in making the foods and beverages they buy. The differences among natural sweeteners can be used to not only enhance flavors but to tell a story as well. Many stevia products, for example, are chemically extracted. They may have an unnatural petrochemical flavor. Water extracted stevia products deliver a clean taste and a production method that consumers understand.

The optimum sweetness solution almost always comes from the interplay of carefully chosen ingredients. Sweetener tendencies are magnified or muted in the presence or absence of other ingredients. When some sweeteners are used in tandem, they work together like a well-trained team. They bring out the best in each other, and together, they become more powerful than the simple sum of their parts. These synergies command lower usage levels with the benefit of cost reduction. Appealing to consumers is the ultimate benefit to beverage processors. A well-honed sweetening system can lead to an uncluttered ingredient statement. That is the key to a clean label.

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