The double reformulation challenge
By Rudy Wouters, vice president Beneo-Technology Center
Consumers are increasingly interested in what they are eating and drinking, and this is reflected in the claims that are appearing on pack.
In survey data of global beverage launches from June 2019 to May 2020 ‘ethical’, ‘no additives / preservatives’ and ‘no added sugar’ featured in the top ten claims (Source: Mintel GNPD).
This is reinforced by international research commissioned by Beneo (Source: Beneo Clean Label Consumer research 2018 (UK | Germany | USA, Apr-May 2018, N=3000 (1000/country)) that shows that clean claims such as “no artificial ingredients”, “no preservatives” and “contains only natural ingredients” are getting high scores from shoppers across the globe.
With consumers worldwide increasingly searching for ways to clean up their diets and reduce sugar at the same time, beverage manufacturers are looking even more deeply at achieving this double reformulation goal.
Clean label as standard
Consumers now expect their products to be clean label as standard, with 1 in 2 consumers (aged 18 – 70 years old) looking at the ingredients list on new products before buying (i Source: BENEO Clean Label Consumer Research 2018, conducted by Haystack in Germany, UK, USA) and 1 in 3 around the globe saying that they have increased their research on ingredients over the past year (Health Focus International Global Trend Study 2018). The importance of the label cannot be underestimated. Therefore, it is not surprising that manufacturers have responded to this increasing label scrutiny, with figures showing 1 in 3 new products launched in 2019 featured a ‘natural’ claim (Mintel GNPD 2020).
As well as increased demand for cleaner labels, ‘sugar’ has replaced ‘price’ as consumers’ top food worry (Food Standards Agency survey, August 2018). Not surprisingly, according to Beneo (Beneo commissioned consumer research in five European countries) research, the main motivation for consumers to reduce their sugar intake is its negative effects on their health, with 58% of respondents wanting to consume less sugar, saying weight management is their biggest driver.
The industry is responding to consumer demands in a variety of ways. Sugar reduced drinks have seen a significant uptake, due to initiatives such as the UK’s Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL).
The total volume sales of low- and zero-sugar (< 5 g/100 ml) drinks rose by 40% between 2015 and 2018. Milk, milk substitute and juice drinks, however are more challenging when it comes to sugar reduction, due to the natural sugar content of their ingredients.
With the UK drinks industry tasked with reducing sugar in juice based drinks by 5% (excluding juice from a single fruit or vegetable) and by 20% in milk based drinks (including milk substitute drinks) by mid-2021, the reformulation spotlight is shifting towards these beverages and producers are turning to functional ingredients providers for help.
Sugar reduced and clean label?
Beneo’s Technology Center has been working with a range of beverage customers interested in producing cleaner label, sugar reduced products. Particular success has been seen in developing milk substitute recipe concepts containing clean label ingredients such as native rice starches and prebiotic chicory root fibre. Beneo’s rice starches provide a creamy, smooth mouthfeel and Beneo’s Orafti inulin boosts fibre, as well as allowing for on pack digestive health claims while cutting on sugar.
New product concept examples include a rice drink that uses different rice ingredients such as rice starch, rice flour and rice syrup to obtain a dairy alternative beverage with smooth mouthfeel and optimised flavour profile.
As consumers demand even more benefits from their beverages, functional ingredients manufacturers are helping producers respond with products that meet these ever more challenging reformulation requirements.