Last modified
09/25/2018 - 09:53

What kind of sweetener does the consumer prefer? You will find the answer in Kerry's research.

In order to deeply understand consumers' perceptions and changes about sweetness and sugar, recently, Kerry, a well-known ingredient company, released a survey report on sweeteners and cleaning labels. You will find a detailed discussion of American consumers' perceptions and preferences for natural and artificial sweeteners, and the search for the best clean label sweeteners in the minds of consumers in this latest 20-page white paper.  

According to the survey, 71% of American consumers will carefully read the ingredients list of food and beverage because of “sugar”, and nearly half of them hope to reduce the consumption of sugar. In this latest 20-page white paper, Kerry explores the American consumer's perceptions and preferences for natural and artificial sweeteners, and explores the best clean label sweeteners in the minds of consumers, with a focus on manufacturing. The retail and food service industries provide consumers with real-world ideas to address the future of the food and beverage industry.

760 US consumers' perceptions of sweeteners:

Kerry surveyed more than 760 US consumers, studied their views and attitudes on 17 sweeteners in six food and beverage categories, and selected their preferred and ideal sweeteners.This six categories,including sports drinks, carbonated drinks, ice cream, flavored alcoholic beverages, nutrition bars and biscuit cakes.

In the study, Kerry found that 71% of consumers read the sugar content of the ingredient label, while 46% of consumers strongly hope to reduce sugar consumption. “Consumers believe that all kinds of foods and beverages contain too much sugar, especially carbonated soft drinks, cakes, ice cream and juice. Consumers prefer to use natural and familiar sweeteners, such as products made from honey, which is a very familiar health food.Although honey is not low in calories, consumers show a high level of trust in honey as a sweetener. As consumers become more aware, they will pay close attention to the amount of sugar they eat. Especially those sweeter foods," the report concludes.

Meanwhile,the ideal product formula varies according to the segmentation and category of the consumer: some products require a formulation with a lower sugar content, but the taste is the same as before, such as carbonated beverages; while some products require a lower sugar content and less sweet formulations, such as pastries.These choices are influenced by the category, state of demand, serving size, and nutrients such as calories and protein levels.

The report also pointed out that most consumers will actively manage their sugar consumption through behavior, and the growing concern about adult diabetes and childhood obesity has led consumers to increase the review of sugar and sweetness in the foods and beverages they consume.

The shortcomings of sugar and sweeteners have led to changes in consumer behavior. Not only have consumers started looking for clean label products, research has shown that they are most concerned with the "sweetener type" when choosing sweeteners, followed by "additional sugar per serving." The number of grams, and finally "the amount of calories per serving." For men, the type of sweetener is significantly more important (57% for men and 45% for women), and for older consumers, the number of grams of sugar added is more important.

Consumer perceptions of ideal daily sugar intake:

According to the report, consumers have different understandings of sweeteners, and nearly half (48%) of consumers believe that the ideal daily sugar intake is 6 to 9 teaspoons (25-38g), which is in line with daily intake recommended from health and nutrition institutions.

The report said that compared with millennials (18-34 years old), baby boomers (35-54 years old) and X generation (55 years old and older) are more likely to reduce sugar content. However, there is a disconnect between their consciousness and consumer behavior. According to the US Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Economic Research, although the World Health Organization and the American Heart Association recommend limiting daily sugar from 25 grams to 36 grams, the average American consumes 19.5 teaspoons (82 grams) of sugar per day. “This shows that Americans are aware of the ideal daily sugar intake, however, they don’t have enough knowledge of the sugar content on the label,” the report added.

What is the best sweetener in the minds of consumers?

The report shows that honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar and agave are the most acceptable sweeteners for consumers. “In terms of sweeteners, among the 850 different product combinations of protein content and calorie count, the most preferred sweetener in all categories is honey, with a protein content of 8-10 g and a maximum calorie volume of 50 calories.

Kerry found that honey is by far the strongest consumer priority driver, and other natural sources of sweeteners (Maple Syrup, Agave, etc.) will also have a positive impact on preferences. Unexpectedly, many other natural sweeteners (such as palm sugar, stevia, mangosteen, etc.) have driven consumers' negative perceptions, most likely because consumers still lack the cognition of sweeteners.

In terms of calorie counts, Kerry found that any level below 50 calories is a positive factor driving purchases, and zero calories is the second most important factor driving sales. For product formulators, this means that zero-calorie products are the consumer's first choice and need to reduce calorie content as much as possible on the basis of guaranteed taste. The report added.

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