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The Sugar Replacement Debate

The debate surrounding sugar and its impact on health is an ongoing one. It is undeniable that high sugar consumption leads to obesity which ultimately leads to other health issues. However, finding ways to reduce or replace sugar in food, particularly in confectionary items, presents a significant challenge.

This is because sugar contributes not only to the taste of food items but also to other factors including texture, bulk, mouthfeel, aroma and colour. Sugar is also cheap, freely available and versatile.

Furthermore, there is still some reservations when it comes to artificial sweeteners due to health concerns. This despite many sugar alternatives being considered safe to use.

The situation is also being made more challenging as the plant-based, sustainable and clean ingredient trend continues to gain popularity.

The industry is therefore faced with the problem of finding something that will retain the functionality of sugar, that is healthier and satisfies the clean label requirement, whilst keeping costs down.

More than just sweetness

Replacing the sugar in formulations is not just about finding an ingredient that will replicate the sweetness. Because sugar does more than one thing, multiple ingredients are needed to fulfil all the other roles it performs.

Many of the sugar alternatives – be they artificial or natural – are also significantly sweeter than sugar and are therefore needed in much lower quantities.

These factors mean that additional bulking agents and ingredients are needed. These extra ingredients may ultimately end up pushing costs up, which in the current post-pandemic climate, is not ideal.

Consumers have also become incredibly ingredient savvy and especially those that are health conscious may not be happy with long lists of unknown ingredients that they are not familiar with.

Less may mean more

According to, due to the fact that smaller quantities of alternative sweeteners are needed, these may need to be measured manually before being added into the manufacturing process and the small quantities may have a higher cost implication due to minimum order quantity that may result in wastage and ingredient write-offs.

The short-term solution for confectionary and other food manufacturers may therefore lie, not in eliminating sugar, but in encouraging moderation amongst consumers by, for example, reducing portion size, however, investment will need to be made into finding a replacement for those consumers who do want to go completely sugar-free.

Chemgrit Food supplies various types of sugar and sugar alternatives for use in the food and beverage industry. For information contact Chemgrit Food.



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