By: Joyce Friedberg

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In an ongoing shift, consumers are increasingly more cognizant of the amount and type of sugar and other sweeteners in their products. According to results from the 2018 IFIC “Health & Wellness” survey, 77 percent of consumers are trying to limit or avoid sugars. While the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends an intake of added sugar of less than 10 percent of daily calories, only 42 percent of Americans are meeting this guideline. On average, those that met the guideline consumed 6.7 teaspoons equivalents of added sugar, while those who did not consumed 25.1 teaspoons equivalents of added sugar. The CDC includes desserts like cake and cookies on its list of leading sources of added sugar.

Consequently, snack and bakery companies are making commitments to reduce sugar in their products, especially with impending new labeling guidelines that will require information on “added sugar” to be added to the label by January 2020. But reducing or replacing sugar is not an easy task, since sugar contributes taste, sweetness and provides a multitude of functional benefits.

Going better-for-you

BENEO, Parsippany, NJ, offers isomalt, a functional carbohydrate derived from beet sugar, as an alternative. It has a very low glycemic response and half the calories of sugar, but still delivers natural taste and sweetness. Isomalt is stable at high temperatures and resistant to acid and enzymatic hydrolysis. “Isomalt is low-hygroscopic and thus lends to crispy, sugar-reduced cookies and other baked goods, as well as stable chocolate, particularly when these foods are sold in hot and humid climates of the world,” according to Kyle Krause, regional product manager.

Another option from BENEO, Palatinose is a fully digestible, slow-release, disaccharide-type carbohydrate composed of glucose and fructose. The ingredient provides a great range of technical benefits. “Its acid and temperature stability result in a longer shelf life for the foods it’s used in. Its taste and mouthfeel closely resemble the popular sweetness profile of sucrose, thus providing a natural, sugar-like taste and sweetness,” notes Krause. It can be used in a range of products, including confections, breakfast bars and other baked goods.

“In muffins, Palatinose delivers a nice brown crust color and pleasant sweetness. Because of its low hygroscopicity, it results in good dough-handling.” Tests have shown that a partial replacement of sucrose with Palatinose in doughnuts leads to an extended shelf life through this unique carbohydrate’s ability to control water activity and moisture migration. “Furthermore, glazes made with Palatinose maintain transparency, even throughout the extended shelf life. Thanks to the low hygroscopicity of Palatinose, glazes do not become sticky,” shares Krause.

Another alternative sweetener is KetoseSweet+ from Icon Foods, Portland, OR. The ingredient is a blend of allulose, a rare sugar derived from fruits like jackfruit, figs and raisins, plus stevia and monkfruit. It functions like sugar, has a taste that’s similar to sugar and is 1.5 times the sweetness of sugar. Plus it participates in Maillard browning, the interaction of proteins and sugars that creates caramelization. “This makes it a wonderful sweetener for baked goods where browning and caramelization is required. It also activates yeast, so leavened products can rise effectively. It acts as a humectant in bars since it carries a certain level of hygroscopicity. KetoseSweet+ has 90 percent less calories than sugar and does not affect blood pressure,” shares Thom King, president and CEO. The sweetener can work alone or in combination with other sweeteners, such as monk fruit extract or stevia. The product is available in both liquid and crystal formats.

Sweetening syrups

Ciranda, Hudson, WI, recently introduced organic brown and clarified rice syrups to its portfolio. The product was introduced in partnership with Matco Foods, Karachi, Pakistan. Matco’s Kisan Dost (Farmer’s Friend) program provides multiple services, including agricultural education, crop monitoring, laser land leveling to reduce water inputs, and 24/7 mobile phone consultancy, to the rice growers at no cost.

“Functionally rice syrup acts as a binding, bulking and browning agent, can feed yeast fermentation, prevents moisture migration, and helps provide stability and consistent texture throughout the product’s shelf life. Developers can mix and match varying dextrose equivalents (DE) levels of syrups to achieve the desired balance of texture and flavor. Rice syrup is also familiar and recognizable, making it suitable for clean-label development,” says Tonya Lofgren, marketing manager, Ciranda. Rice syrup can be used alone or in combination with other sweeteners such as tapioca syrup or honey. The ingredient can be used in granola, bars and snack clusters for binding and adhesion. In bakery products such as cookies, biscuits and pastries it delivers flavor, texture and color development.

Cargill, Minneapolis, recently expanded its sweetener portfolio with the addition of four non-GMO, clean-label tapioca syrups. The line includes a full range of carbohydrate profiles and DE levels—and certified-organic options. “In creating the new line of syrups, our research and ingredient processing teams worked to develop products with carbohydrate profiles and DE levels that mirror the company’s existing corn/glucose syrups. As a result, the tapioca syrups perform nearly identically, allowing 1:1 replacement with little to no additional formulation work,” notes Scott Helstad, technical service representative. The tapioca syrups work well in snack bar applications where they act as an adhesive, binding the ingredients together without becoming too sticky. They also aid with humectancy to keep the bars moist over time.

Next-gen stevia

This year, Cargill also started producing commercial quantities of Eversweet, a zero-calorie, next-generation sweetener made with Reb M and Reb D. “Since the stevia plant produces only trace amounts of Reb M and Reb D, Cargill turned to fermentation to produce Eversweet. This process allows for large quantities of the most-sought-after sweet compounds to be commercially produced in a more-sustainable way. It also gives us the flexibility to expand rapidly and cost effectively as the demand for Eversweet sweetener grows,” shares Andy Ohmes, global director, high-intensity sweeteners.

“Eversweet provides sweetness without the bitterness or licorice aftertaste, creating a more-rounded taste profile with a faster onset of sweetness. It is ideal for manufacturers looking for deep calorie reductions, enabling up to 100 percent sugar replacement in certain applications,” continues Ohmes. Eversweet can be used in combination with Zerose erythritol or Oliggo-Fiber chicory root fiber to help replace the bulk and functionality of sugar. Eversweet can be used in a wide range of baked goods and snacks, including cookies, cupcakes, cereals and more.

Sweet Green Fields, Bellingham, WA, in partnership with Tate & Lyle, Hoffman Estates, IL, has launched the next-generation non-GMO stevias Optimizer Stevia 4.10 and Intesse Stevia 2.0, which provide taste improvements and greater cost-effectiveness. “They are both proprietary combinations of steviol glycosides extracted from stevia leaf. Optimizer Stevia 4.10 is a new addition to the product range of Optimizer Stevia which is a group of optimized blends of steviol glycosides that outperform the taste of conventional RA95 to RA100 at a competitive cost in use, meeting a medium level of sugar-reduction demand. For a higher sugar-reduction goal, Intesse Stevia 2.0 delivers a clean taste that is close to cane sugar without bitterness of lingering note,” states Michael Quin, senior vice president sales, Sweet Green Fields. Optimizer Stevia 4.10 can replace up to 6 or 7 °Brix (Bx) sugar, and Intesse Stevia 2.0 can achieve up to 8 °Bx sugar. Both ingredients can be used in snacks, baked goods and confectionary products.

Ingredion Incorporated, Westchester, IL, recently launched ENLITEN Fusion stevia sweeteners to help manufacturers achieve the highest level of sugar reduction at an optimized cost. “Each sweetener has been developed by combining the best attributes of various steviol glycosides, so you can better meet consumer taste, caloric and sweetness expectations in a wide range of applications,” shares Elena Zalewski, associate marketing manager, sweetness. The stevia sweeteners can be used in bars, bites and snacking applications, and can complement high-protein products. She notes that functional ingredients such as low-sugar syrups, polyols, fruit and vegetable concentrates, and prebiotic fibers can help compensate for the beneficial attributes lost with the sugar.

Taste modulation

Research by Kerry, Beloit, WI, found the sweet modulator market in the U.S. has been steadily growing, and is expected to grow over 10 percent from 2018 to 2023. Kerry recently introduced a new modulation portfolio called TasteSense, leveraging leading taste research, natural processes and environmentally friendly scale-up facilities to identify, develop and commercialize captive modifiers. These captive modifiers provide unique flavor solutions in the area of sugar reduction, masking (bitter, protein, fortification), mouthfeel (sugary body, creamy, kokumi) and salt enhancement.

TasteSense Sweet lets product developers maintain the sweet taste consumers love while delivering products with lower added sugar to meet nutritional expectations. It can directly aid in reducing the amount of sugar in applications by up to 30 percent, notes Rajesh Potineni, vice president of taste innovation, sensory and analytical sciences, Kerry. It can be used in a wide variety of snack and bakery applications, such as granola bars, cookies, cakes and breads.

Honey verified

According to True Source Honey, not all honey is legally or ethically sourced. “Consumers buy products sweetened with honey because they are seeking wholesome, natural foods. The True Source Honey initiative is designed to protect that reputation and quality of honey and honey products. True Source Honey works to ensure that honey is ethically and legally sourced in a transparent and traceable manner. The True Source certification program provides audits by an internationally recognized third-party firm that certifies the source of the honey from hive to packer,” shares Gordon Marks, executive director.

About 30 percent of honey sold in North America is True Source Certified. Upon successful completion of third-party audits, manufacturers can use either the True Source Honey logo or the “Made with True Source Honey” logo on their packages.

Sugar and sweeteners will continue to be on the radar for both consumers and companies—and they’re going to want to know what they are getting.


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