Innova Market Insights finds sustained appeal in cutting sugar and boosting protein


23 Feb 2021 — The drive toward healthier food choices will remain robust in sweet treats throughout this year, as emphasized in Innova Market Insights’ latest report. 

Indulgent taste is essential to confectionery, sweet bakery, ice cream and desserts, which brings on challenges in “better-for-you” reformulations. 

Sugar reduction and protein enhancement are two concepts most sought after in purchasing decisions and are therefore significant focuses for “better-for-you” development, notes the market researcher.

In particular, sugar reduction has been successful in ice cream, with an emphasis on bolder on-pack calorie counts. Earlier this month, for instance, Swedish brand Nick’s scooped up US$30 million in financing for its sugar-free frosty treats made with EPG, a patented fat replacer that gives the ice cream great taste and texture despite being low-calorie. 

“Several brands, such as Halo Top, have established themselves firmly on a low sugar platform,” says Lu Ann Williams, global insights director at Innova Market Insights. 

“Their success owes much to pricing that is similar to premium mainstream products and a strong brand ethos centered on health.” 

Sweeter but healthier
Innova Market Insights’ analysis reveals that 91 percent of consumers are “at least a little” influenced by sugar reduction claims. Strategies in this context vary and include complete removal of sugar, blending of sugar with sweeteners and advances in sugar science.

“There have been winners and losers in reduced sugar treats, however, and there is no surefire route to success,” the market researcher states.

Click to EnlargeA sweetener made from banana extract has shown promising results in many applications such as chocolate, dairy and beverages.Among top sweetener ingredients, stevia, erythritol and monk fruit are all gaining ground. 

Other unique solutions are being trialed on the market. Earlier this month, tropical fruit processor Frutco and plant-based ingredient supplier Fooditive teamed up to fight food waste with a new sweetener line in Europe based on banana peels

In other developments, Ocean Spray partnered with Amai Proteins to roll out a cranberry juice that features roughly 40 percent less sugar. It uses a “hyper-sweet” designer protein that is marketed as “thousands of times sweeter than sugar.”

The concept of sugar reduction generally ties into overall resource management. As highlighted by Kerry earlier this week, the production of sugar exacts a large environmental toll in terms of water usage and carbon emissions. 

Protein lifts the bar on dairy desserts appeal
Macronutrient Makeover” was crowned a Top Trend by Innova Market Insights last year, but evidently remains front and center in product formulations across the broad food domain.

Beyond sugar, protein is a macronutrient fitting well with indulgent dairy desserts but bulking up the appeal in some confectionery and sweet bakery products.

“Even some well-known sports nutrition brands are exploring opportunities in high-protein biscuits and chocolate products,” highlights Innova Market Insights.

Plant-based ingredients also stand out, the market researcher underscores. “Pea protein is an increasingly popular ingredient choice, with rice protein an emerging niche.”

In this space, FrieslandCampina and Zeelandia have joined forces to craft an accessible whey protein-based alternative to premium New York cheesecake. Dubbed “The New Cheesecake,” it uses local ingredients, offering bakeries and outlets in Europe and Asia the opportunity to create their own unique variations. 

Edited by Benjamin Ferrer

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