The reduced-sugar trend is showing no sign of slowing. At this year’s SupplySide West trade show, Cargill (Minneapolis) shared findings from its brand-new consumer research report, which indicated that today’s consumers are not only keen on clean-label and natural-sounding ingredients; they are also particularly concerned about added sugars. According to the report, shoppers are looking for reduced-sugar offerings that still taste great. With its fermentation-derived EverSweet sweetener, set to launch in 2018, Cargill offers formulators a solution.
In the report, Cargill asked roughly 300 consumers—at least half of whom were the primary shopper for their household—to consider what clean label means to them. Pam Stauffer, global marketing programs manager, Cargill, explained that while most of the people surveyed said they look for clean-label products, they aren’t always certain what, exactly, clean label means. And, while there were overlapping characteristics for what consumers think of as clean label—organic, non-GMO products with natural-sounding, non-chemical names, for example—it’s a bit of a gray area. On the other hand, she said, consumers are clear in their desire for reduced-sugar offerings, even if they don’t necessarily equate “reduced sugar” with “clean label.”
“The consumer really isn’t thinking of it in those terms,” she told Nutritional Outlook at the show. “But our customers sure are.” It’s more important than ever, she said, to help formulators pick out the right ingredients to meet consumer demand. Cargill’s stevia portfolio, which includes leaf-based formulations, now also features a fermentation-derived stevia sweetener that Cargill has been developing for some time now: EverSweet.
Andrew Ohmes, product line manager, Cargill, explained that the new EverSweet Reb M/Reb D stevia sweetener, a result of Cargill’s partnership with fermentation ingredients specialist Evolva, overcomes some of the potential challenges involved with leaf-based stevia production. “Agronomy’s a tricky thing,” he said at this year’s SupplySide West show. “In the meantime, there is this demand from the consumer to reduce sugar with stevia that tastes great, so we worked with Evolva to develop [a] fermentation [process for stevia], which is pretty straightforward process that’s been around forever…the advantage is that we don’t have to plant so many acres, or hectares…of leaf to get this [yield].”
In addition, he said, EverSweet has “virtually no bitterness.” “There’s better up-front sweetness and a higher sweetness profile,” which he said will allow formulators to reach zero calories across a variety of applications. Given the impending changes to the Nutrition Facts label, which specify that “added sugars” content must be clearly noted, EverSweet’s introduction seems particularly well-timed. At the show, Cargill offered samples of EverSweet to its customers, as well as two unique EverSweet-based beverage formulations: a zero-calorie cola and an iced mocha. “With the labelling law changes, this type of product, which you can buy in a gas station today, might have 80%, 90%, or even 100% of your daily allowance of sugar. So, if you [see that high sugar content] on a label, how is [that] going to drive your buying decisions? If you’re able to remove some or all of the sweetness and replace it with EverSweet, that’s a big deal,” he said.
“[Bringing EverSweet to market] has been a long road but we’re finally there,” Ohmes continued. “Our partners are excited about it, and our customers are excited about it. It’ll be great to see products out in the marketplace with EverSweet.”