Sugar Reduction Trends: Consumer Insights and Market Overview

Explore the current global sugar reduction trends including consumer insights and preferences

June 24, 2024 – Food and beverages that have sugar reduction claims often use sugar substitutes. The main sugar reduction claims are sugar free, no added sugar, low sugar, and reduced sugar. Each sugar reduction claim is more prominent in certain food and beverage categories.  Also, natural sweeteners and artificial sweeteners are used in specific types of foods and beverages.

Sugar Reduction and Health

Sugar often is blamed as the cause or as a related factor for many different medical conditions. Some of these include weight gain, obesity, diabetes, and other diseases in adults, dental cavities, plus hyperactivity in children.

Governments Regulate Sugar in Foods and Beverages

Around the world, governments enact rules and laws that force manufacturers to reduce sugar in their products. Some countries have a sugar tax on foods and beverages as a way to make consumers pay more if they want to eat or drink something sweet. Often, governments also regulate advertising of sugar-sweetened foods and beverages to children.

Definitions of Sugar Reduction

Sugar reduction claims are low sugar, no added sugar, reduced sugar, and sugar free. Low sugar means that the amount of sugar per serving does not exceed a defined limit. Reduced sugar means less sugar, for example, 25% less sugar or 30% less sugar. Low sugar is all products labeled by the manufacturer as low sugar. No added sugar products may have naturally occurring sugars such as lactose or fructose. Sugar free products have no added sugar and no ingredients that have naturally occurring sugar, such as lactose in milk or fructose in fruit.

Consumer Trends Support Sugar Reduction

The global trend toward healthier lives is leading consumers to invest in their health by choosing foods and beverages with less sugar or no sugar. Consumer trends show that consumers are buying products with less or no sugar as a way to support their health. Consumers make health and wellbeing a priority for their spending and they take action to live in a more healthful way. One consumer trend is to switch to better-for-you treats, including sweets and desserts that are reduced sugar or sugar-free. Consumers also enjoy healthy indulgences such as cakes and pastries, chocolates, and desserts that are reduced sugar or sugar free.

Sugar Reduction Trends

Consumer Trends Toward Healthy Ingredients

Consumer trends show that consumers understand that healthy products should have reduced amounts of unhealthy ingredients, such as reduced sugar. Consumers are limiting their sugar and using artificial sweeteners and natural sweeteners because they want sweet foods and beverages with lower calories. They say that indulgent foods and beverages could be healthier if they had lower amounts of unhealthy ingredients and artificial ingredients, along with more natural ingredients, for example, natural sweeteners. According to global consumer trends, consumers become more conscious about sugar as they get older.

Consumers on Diets Look for Sugar Reduction Claims

Consumers on lower carbohydrate diets like diets for diabetes, keto, and weight loss look for sugar reduction claims such as no added sugar and sugar free. They also want reduced sugar foods and beverages to be gluten free, high protein, vegan, or plant-based. Consumers also want sugar-reduced products to have clean features such as no additives or preservatives.

Sugar free is a top claim in beverages such as soft drinks and also in confectionery, while no added sugar is seen in reduced sugar indulgences. Flavored alcoholic beverages, coffee drinks, desserts and ice creams, and sauces are among the fastest growing categories with sugar reduction claims. Some ready meals and side dishes have a sugar reduction claim so that consumers can reduce sugar in healthy convenience foods.

Ingredients for Sugar Reduction Have Functional Properties

Innovation in natural sweeteners and sugar substitutes allow manufacturers to reproduce the various features and benefits of sugar. These can include sweetness, mouthfeel, bulking, browning, moisture retention and others, plus less sugar and fewer calories. Some manufacturers use a combination of natural sugar substitutes and sweet fibers to balance sweetness and lessen the after-taste of certain sweeteners.

Manufacturers Choose From Various Artificial Sweeteners and Natural Sweeteners

Manufacturers can choose from various types of sweeteners for sugar reduction. Bulk sweeteners also are known as sugar alcohols. They can replace the volume, or bulk, of sugar and partly replace the sweeteners of sugar. Most are lower in calories than sugar but are not calorie free. Erythritol is one example. Artificial sweeteners are chemically manufactured. They are many times sweeter than sugar and can be added in very small amounts. These sweeteners have no calories. Examples are sucralose and acesulfame K. Artificial sweeteners often are combined with other ingredients in order to provide all of the properties of sugar. Natural sweeteners can be derived from plants, rare sugars, or sweet proteins. Stevia is one example. Some natural sweeteners are produced using precision fermentation since amounts in nature are limited and they are very expensive to extract. Sweet fibers such as inulin provide functional properties and have mild sweetness.

What’s Next in Sugar Reduction?

Watch for growing legislation and labeling laws around sugar, combined with consumer trends toward having less sugar. Front-of-pack labeling will help inform consumers. Technology-driven manufacturing such as precision fermentation are likely to grow. The industry will see more natural sweeteners, including in beverages and non-alcoholic options.


This article is based on our report, “Now & Next in Global Sugar Reduction.” If you are interested in reading this report, feel free to request a demo.
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