Posted: June 8, 2022
Author: Scott Gilbertson, Flavor Chemist

Let me start by saying, it’s a good time to reduce sugar in products. Not only are consumers receptive to the idea of sugar reduction, but there are myriad ways to go about it and without having to compromise taste. 

The arrival of stevia into the market – as a food ingredient rather than a dietary supplement – in the late 2000s really was a game changer in the demand for natural high-intensity sweeteners. This is not to say that artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols didn’t continue to be relevant in some applications and with particular cost-in-use targets. Because they certainly did and do remain relevant today. 

Yet, as more and more steviol glycosides, such as Reb A and Reb M are approved for use by FEMA (Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association) and FDA, we’ve seen the demand for natural, non-caloric, high-intensity sweeteners takeoff exponentially. Monk fruit is another example. It has also increased in use and demand within the last 10 years. However, once the E.U. market allows use of monk fruit in products, we believe we could see an even greater increase in demand. The E.U. approval for monk fruit use was originally expected to be in late 2020/early 2021 but was slowed due to COVID.

Minding the sugar gap

Of course, sugar is sweet – a clean, satisfying sweet – but we all know its role goes beyond sweetening in applications. Sugar is also a bulking agent and contributes to the mouthfeel of food and beverages. So, when a significant amount of sugar is removed from a product, something is needed to backfill the loss. Often times it’s filled with a fiber or a hydrocolloid or a combination of the two. Building back mouthfeel is an essential part of a sugar reduction strategy.  

People come to us with different targets for sugar reduction in their formulations while wanting to keep the same taste and texture. Here’s our rule of thumb with:

  • 10-15% sugar reduction – depending on the application, many times this much can be removed out without the end-consumer tasting a difference.
  • Up to 40% sugar reduction – you can often get away with a natural flavor replacement only.
  • Above 40% sugar reduction – generally will need some level of sweetener (artificial or natural) to retain the same perceived level of sweetness. Also, may need to adjust bulking agents, mouthfeel, and off notes resulting from the replacement sweetener.

sweet toolbox

Every customer has a different application and desired sweetness level. That’s why here at Wixon we strive to customize a solution for every customer based on their application and the level of sugar they want to reduce. We’re able to do this with our extensive toolbox of flavors and proprietary taste technologies. These allow us to tailor a custom solution using natural flavors to intensify sweetness or to mask off-notes. Specific Mag-nifique™ technologies include:

  • Sweet-Lift – This is a great solution when replacing up to 40% sugar in a product. Sweet-Lift accentuates the remaining sweetness in the product and is labeled as a natural flavor.
  • Mag-nifique™ for High-Intensity Sweeteners – This Mag-nifique™ technology retains sweetness levels of high-intensity sweeteners, while masking their innate off-notes or bitterness in product applications. It’s also labeled as a natural flavor. (We can adjust an existing sweetener formulation with this technology or create a new one.)
  • Sweet Advantage – This is a combination of a natural high-intensity sweetener with natural flavor that’s used when replacing up to 80% sugar. It’s available with either monk fruit or stevia and natural flavor.
  • Sweet-Away – When there’s a desire to tone down the sweet taste of a product, Sweet-Away is an ideal solution. It lessens the perception of sweetness and is labeled as natural flavor.

With the Mag-nifique™ sweet technologies, we’re able to help our customers achieve both their desired sweetness level and flavor profile. It’s important to understand the applications and the regulations governing them as well. We’re fortunate to have a super regulatory team that guides us. 

Let me finish by saying, our sugar reduction toolbox is pretty sweet. So, if you want to reduce sugar in a product, let us help you reach your sugar reduction goal. Contact your account manager or to find out how we can help.