In the past five years, the number of product launches has more than doubled from just under 5,000 in 2012 to more than 10,000 in 2017 worldwide. Soft drinks and dairy products are among the fastest-growing categories.
Technologists at German food stabilizers company Hydrosol GmbH & Co. KG say that from a technological point of view, sugar has many desirable properties: It binds water, acts as a preservative, and is very readily soluble.
It also gives products flavor, body, texture and a pleasant mouth feel. Merely replacing sugar with intensive chemical sweeteners or alternative sweeteners is generally not a viable alternative for food manufacturers from a technical standpoint.
Instead, they try to replicate the many functions of sucrose through combinations of other ingredients. Hydrosol say its new stabilizing and texturing systems accomplish this. In application testing, Hydrosol determined the optimum combination of individual components in various food products, resulting in individual ingredient combinations for foods like yogurt, drinking yogurt, mixed milk drinks and pudding, as well as for fruit drinks, energy drinks, ketchup and plant-based whipping creams.
Katharina Schäfer, product manager dairy and deli foods at Hydrosol, said the new systems can compensate for lower sugar content.
“The targeted combination of different individual components gives each product the desired qualities. Hydrocolloids and starch give stability, body and a pleasing texture, while special plant fibers improve mouth feel,” Schäfer said.
She added that if the fiber content is high enough, it can be labeled on the product as an added health feature.
Halving sugar possible
In order to get the requisite sweetness, Hydrosol uses low-cost conventional sweeteners or stevia. and natural flavorings round out the profile.
“Our sister company OlbrichtArom even offers a ‘sugar booster’ especially for sugar-reduced products. This natural flavoring amplifies the delicate sweetness in the final product without affecting its characteristic flavor,” Schäfer said.
“A reduction by 30 to 50% is relatively easy for us to achieve in most products,” Schäfer said.