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DISPATCHES FROM IFT

From 'good sugar' to reformulation R&D: The companies that welcome sugar taxes

Niamh Michail

By Niamh Michail+

05-Aug-2016
Last updated on 05-Aug-2016 at 14:24 GMT2016-08-05T14:24:35Z

 From Mexico to Philadelphia; the UK to South Africa, a sugar tax is increasingly seen by policymakers as a way to combat rising obesity rates . ,Photo: iStock

From Mexico to Philadelphia; the UK to South Africa, a sugar tax is increasingly seen by policymakers as a way to combat rising obesity rates . ,Photo: iStock

A sugar tax might be bad news for some manufacturers but for others it's an opportunity. We spoke to a stevia manufacturer, a low GI sugar company and a reformulation R&D firm to see how they view such policies.

One of The Good Sugar Company's products is Honeytose, which contains 99% crystalline allulose. Parent company Petiva describes it as a natural and virtually calorie-free sugar present in honey.

The company says it can reduce the glycaemic load of the carbohydrates it is consumed with and has no impact on blood sugar level.   It also sells Nectarose, made of 92% trehalulose and 8% isomaltulose, and Canenose which contains pure isomaltulose. 

Could a sugar tax have a positive impact on business for The Good Sugar Company?

© Petiva

“A sugar tax will help business for us so we are absolutely for it,” said director Banibrata Pandey, speaking to FoodNavigator from the floor of last month's IFT in Chicago.  But not only for business, I personally feel that it will bring awareness to the people that sugar is good – it’s tasty, it’s required for physiological and psychological needs - but it is also required to be in moderate [consumption] and the good [type].

"That’s why we made it very clear – we are The Good Sugar Company."

'Sugar taxes are a core focus for our business'

Stevia. © iStock / Annika

Next FoodNavigator caught up with Jason Hecker, chief commercial officer at Pure Circle.

Has the stevia manufacturer felt the impact of the sugar tax in Mexico, across different US cities and one in the pipeline in the UK?

“These developments have been taking place around the world and they’ve come in different ways,” he said. "Sometimes it’s a sugar tax, sometimes it’s a stoplight chart. There’s the added sugar discussion on labelling in the United States.

“Obviously these developments are a core focus for our business because we are all about how to moderate calories and sugar in products and as our customers take a stronger interest into looking into it, we are there to provide solutions,"

"Over 1500 products [with stevia] around the world were launched just in the last six months, and in some of these markets you spoke of it’s been a key area of development. 

Nevertheless, sugar and stevia do not necessarily pit themselves against each other as they are often used in products together. "Stevia can work well with sugar to accomplish [sugar reductions]. That was happening before the tax, it's going to happen after the tax," said Hecker.

The best solution? Avoid the need for taxes in the first place

FlavorHealth is a new venture, part of parent company Chromocell, which addresses health trends affecting the food industry such as the desire for less salt, sugar and fat.

It has developed a proprietary process which uses natural cells expressing native human taste receptors to discover novel flavour substances. It creates

© iStock / Bogdan Dreava

the taste receptor in its native form allowing the company to find natural alternative ingredientsthat enhance the sweet flavour thus reducing the need for sugar.

CEO Christian Kopfli said he has seen a general increase in demand of late for FlavorHealth’s reduced sugar solutions, but not necessarily as a direct result of any fiscal measures.

“We've seen a general increase in demand for our sugar solutions because it's clearly the biggest health issue we are having currently,” said Kopfli.

“I see a sugar tax as more of a last resort to avoid too much sugar consumption,” he said. “But what is really exciting about FlavorHealth is that we probably have a solution that avoids the need for taxes, and I think it’s always good if you can let people do and eat what they want and enjoy. Our natural solution really fills that gap - you can still have a super well tasting food but with much less sugar or sodium.”

Chromocell recently extended a partnership with Nestlé    to reduce the salt content in the Swiss company’s global portfolio.

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