Nutrinova says its high intensity sweetener Sunett (Acesulfame K) is being used more and more by yogurt manufacturers around the world. As with other food product categories, there is a strong trend towards reduced- and no-sugar yoghurts as consumers adopt healthier eating habits. What is more, changes to the EU sugar regime mean that sugar prices are on the rise. It may be beneficial for a company's margins to replace some or all of the sugar in a product with a cheaper sweetener. Nutrinova expects that the research, conducted by independent research body Lintech RSSL on commercially-available low-fat plain yoghurts with a 15 per cent strawberry fruit preparation, will help yogurt manufacturers seeking a share in the market. This is especially the case since taste has been identified as a major factor impeding development of the sugar-free/reduced-sugar market. The full results have not yet been published and have not been seen by FoodNavigator.com. But the company has disclosed some preliminary results which indicate that a three-way blend of Sunett, aspartame and sucralose resulted in a taste profile closest to all-sugar. The assessments were made by a panel of ten "specially trained" tasters, who rated sweetness onset, sweetness build, artificial taste detection, aftertaste, thickness, bitterness and strawberry flavour. The yoghurts were divided into three groups: sweeteners and sweetner blends with no added sugar; blends of sweetener(s) and carbohydrates; and sweeteners and sugar. In the first group a 50-50 blend of Sunett and sucralose was seen to yield the most sugar-like taste. "This combination also offers interesting manufacturing benefits such as excellent stability, resistance to pasturisation and prolonged shelf-life," said the company. A 30-70 blend of Sunett and aspartame also yielded a sugar-like taste, but the high-level of aspartame presented stability problems which were overcome in the above mentioned three-way Sunett, aspartame, sucralose blend. When small amounts of carbohydrates were added to Sunett-asparatame and Sunett-sucralose blends, improvements in thickness, mouth-coating and aftertaste were realised. The sucrose, Sunett, aspartame blend also delivered cost savings. "As sweeteners are lower in cost than sugar, partial or total replacement can also yield up to 60 per cent savings," said Nutrinova.