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The bittersweet truth about sugars: why it’s critical to review your sugar content

19 Feb 2020


Sugar: a double edge sword

Sugars, such as glucose, sucrose &, maltose, are the smallest and simplest type of carbohydrates and can be naturally found in fruit, vegetables, milk and honey. They are easily absorbed by the body, can provide ready to use energy for any body cell, plus they are a main fuel for our brain. Sugar, for better or for worse, is a very important component of each person’s life. [1]

However, excessive sugar consumption may lead to an imbalance between body energy intake and body energy usage. When this happens, sugars are stored into the body as fat which can lead to an increased risk of many non-communicable diseases (NCD) such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and dental cavities.[2] [3]



This has happened to millions of people around the world. Between 1975 and 2016, worldwide overweight and obesity has nearly tripled; this now affects roughly 1.9 billion adults (about 39% of world adult population) and 380 million children. During the same timeframe, the number of people affected by diabetes increased by 4 fold and now 1 in every 11 people suffer from this disease. Experts believes that if no dietary shift occurs in the near future, the number of diabetic people could increase by 55% on the next 20 years [3] [4].

To reverse this trend, World Health Organization (WHO) advises both adults and children to reduce sugar intake to less than 10% of total energy intake, which is equivalent to 50g of sugar for an adult of healthy body weight consuming about 2000 calories/day.

Unfortunately, in many countries, these consumption figures are far from reality: in high income countries, sugar intake can account for up to 25% of daily calorie intake; in low-income countries as well, sugar consumption can be as high as 12%. [5] [6]



Consumers are looking for sugar reduced products

Due to the rising worldwide sugar consumption figures and NCD trends, consumers’ awareness about the long term risk related to excessive sugar consumption is growing by the minute.

Governments around the world are doing their part by enforcing:

  • tax schemes such as sugar taxes on carbonated beverages,
  • energy dense food sale restrictions in public places such as hospitals and school vending machines
  • front of packaging schemes such as Nutri-Score in few European countries, warning labels in Chile,...

Limiting daily sugar consumption is now at the top of consumers’ mind as well: according to a recent survey, 50% of worldwide consumers are actively trying to reduce their sugar intake[1], a figure that reaches 87% in the US market[2]. Puratos’ latest Taste Tomorrow survey showed that when reading the ingredient list of bread, pastry, patisserie or chocolate products, 47% of the people interviewed specifically look at the sugar content line.


[7] FMCG GURUS, Fi Event, 2019

Industry takes a stand

Food and beverage companies have put in place short and long term strategies aimed to decrease finished product sugar presence.

From repackaging into smaller portions (= less sugar/portion) to reformulation (less sugar/100 g), different industry players embrace different approaches. As a consequence in the last year, about 5% of newly launched sweet bakery (cookies and cake) and chocolate products carried some kind of sugar reduction claim (sugar reduced, sugar free, low in sugar, no added sugar).

Puratos began development on these solutions several years ago. These first generation products were based on polyols. These products were, however, just the beginning.

Now, we’ve taken it one step further. We have created a reformulation strategy aimed not only to reduce a product’s sugar content, but also to improve the overall nutritional value.



To do this, there are 4 sugar replacement alternatives to choose from:

After reviewing the options, Puratos’ Research & Development team chose to base our reformulation exercises on natural fibers. Our second generation of sugar reduced solutions not only have a more appealing ingredient list, but also a more balanced nutritional profile which couples the “sugar reduced” claim (30% less sugar than reference product) with the “source of fiber” claim. This helps consumers not only reduce their intake of sugar, but also increase the intake of an often under consumed, but extremely healthy ingredient such as fibers. And often to consumer’s surprise, there is no compromise on taste or texture.

What’s your action plan on sugar reduction? With rising obesity and diabetes rates globally-- health is on every consumer’s mind. But before consumers reduce indulgence from their life, companies have the critical opportunity now to make a plan to make their product portfolio healthier or to add new SKUs with added health benefits, such as sugar reduction or a source of fiber claim. Make that plan today, as the bittersweet decisions you make will greatly affect your consumers and your company moving forward. 

Not sure where to start?

Are you looking for ways to offer more sugar-reduced products to your customers

Contact your local representative  for more information on how Puratos is tackling sugar reduction around the world.