Globally, consumers are realizing that sugar, a traditional ingredient that has been used in food and beverages is contributing to health problems such as obesity and diabetes. It’s here where the food industry is committed to respond and find a solution to market necessities such as:
-How do we find alternative ingredients that don ́t cause health problems?
-How do we replace an ingredient that is used worldwide and that fulfills its purpose?
-How do we replace an ingredient that produces energy, warmth, and provides fun and delightful sensations?
For gummy technology, this trend has been an inspiring challenge because sugar is the perfect ingredient to sweeten naturally but also provides the structure and texture that consumers acknowledge. Funtrition has faced the challenge of addressing customer concerns and giving consumers the same sensorial experience, without sacrificing the natural characteristics of sugar. There are new ways to face this challenge of bringing to consumers the same sensorial experience without compromising naturality and addressing customers ́ needs and concerns.
Market change reality
Governments and public health administrations have been pressuring companies that produce food and beverages to reduce the sugar percentages in their products since these induce health problems such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Currently, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the process of this movement since people with diabetes and heart disease have greater risks of dying if they contract the virus.
These circumstances result in consumers being more conscious of their diet and the products they consume. Therefore, consumers aim to reduce or replace sugar with zero calorie organic sweeteners that don‘́t affect their health in other forms. Although consumers enjoy the sweet flavor of food and beverages, they aim to reduce sugar and seek for greater naturalness, expecting the same sensorial experience that a dessert can provide.
Alternatives to sweeten naturally
Stevia: Stevia, a zero-calorie sweetener, is known for being 250-300 times sweeter than sugar. Additionally, it is an extract of the Stevia rebaudiana plant. This sweetener is composed of glucosides that are not metabolized by the human body, which is why it doesn’t provide calories or impact glucose levels in the bloodstream.
Polyols: These are carbohydrates that are obtained industrially through the hydrogenation of sugar. The commonly used polyols in the industry are sorbitol, maltitol, xylitol, isomaltitol, mannitol and erythritol; used as a substitute for sugar, as moisturizers, and structure agents. Polyols protect the teeth from cavities, provide zero-calories and don’t affect glycemic levels in the bloodstream. Therefore, they are a perfect substitute for sugar. Polyols, however, can ́t be declared as natural, which is why they can ́t be used if if the goal is a natural product.
Allulose: Allulose or d-psicosa is a monosaccharide that is present in small amounts in wheat, fruit and other types of foods. It is possible to synthesize allulose through enzymatic epimerization of fructose into d-psicose. It is also a rare sugar composed of 70% sweet and provides only 10% of calories that saccharose provides. Unlike other sweeteners, this rare sugar gives the same sensorial and functional benefits as sugar.
Inulin y FOS: Inulin is a storage carbohydrate that can be found in a variety of plants, vegetables and fruits like roots, figs, yacon, chicory, etc. It is composed by fructose chains called fructanos. The most studied and used fructanos within the food industry are inulin, oligo fructose and fructooligosaccharides (FOS). Inulin does not metabolize by digestive enzymes of humans and animals because they are non-digestible carbohydrates.
Monk Fruit: Also known as Lo Han Guo or Swingle fruit, monk fruit is a small fruit found in Southern China. This fruit has been used through centuries in Eastern medicine techniques for common colds and digestion. Currently, monk fruit extract mogrosides are used as a sweetener in food and beverages. Monk fruit extracts are 150-200 times sweeter than sugar and do not provide calories, however, they do contribute to the structure and texture of gummies.
Fruit concentrate: Fruit concentrate, for example, apple juice or white grapes, are sweeteners commonly used to replace fat in low fat products since they retain water and provide volume to improve the appearance and the feeling of the product in the consumer’s mouth. Although it has a greater natural perception than syrups with high fructose content, the fruit concentrate (65% fructose) can have a greater fructose content than the rest of the high fructose syrups that are used in drinks like the HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), with 55% of fructose.
Fruit: The Miracle (Synsepalum dulcificum) is a fruit tree native to Africa. It has the power of changing acid flavors into extremely sweet flavors through a substance called Miraculin that masks flavors fooling the taste buds to provide a different taste perception. This effect can last from 30 minutes to 2 hours with its intensity decreasing over time. It’s useful in foods that have acid after tastes to mask flavors like stevia.
Andrea has worked across multiple nutrition and food science technologies in her 15+ years of experience. Over the last years she has been focusing on products with nutritional added value as Research and Development Director at Funtrition by Procaps.
Daniela is a chemical engineer that has discovered her passion for innovation during her trajectory at Funtrition™. Always motivated to face challenges, she aims to develop new disruptive products and technologies that take Funtrition™ to the next level.
Funtrition by Procaps is a leading provider of contract and product development services in advanced gummy technologies—including gelatin and non-gelatin gummies such as agar and pectin, center-filled gummies and mixed gummy matrix—for the global nutraceutical industry. Through extensive capabilities and deep expertise in product development and manufacturing, companies can bring innovative supplements to market faster. Funtrition by Procaps’ facility is HACCP, GMP, organic and halal certified.