The firm’s main offering was a tropical juice drink containing Tate & Lyle’s sucralose-based Splenda sweetener. The firm’s marketing manager for EMEA, Paul Freeman, said Tate & Lyle wanted to demonstrate Splenda’s applications in a major category such as fruit juices, and stimulate discussion and further development with its customers.
“What we’ve got in this drink is a 40%-sugar-reduced, 39%-calorie-reduced tropical juice drink, to show that you can achieve the same great taste with less sugar and less calories by using Splenda Sucralose,” said Freeman.
Calories vs taste
“The reason we’re bringing this to the region is it’s a region where consumers have typically enjoyed sweet-tasting food and drink, and also a region where there’s increased awareness about issues such as diabetes and obesity. We certainly know consumers want to cut back on calories, including sugar – but 75% of consumers also state that taste is the number one reason why they choose certain food and drinks,” he added.
The company was also demonstrating a raspberry-lime flavoured tea drink prototype made using its stevia based Tasteva sweetener. This was created to show the potential of new stevia-based sweeteners, in combination with the firm’s texturant products
“It shows we can go further with sugar reduction: in this case, we have a 50%-sugar-reduced product, with not only no bitter aftertaste, which many consumers would associate with stevia sweeteners, but also no compromise on the mouth-feel. We do that with the addition of a soluble gluco fibre called Promitor, which won an award at Food Ingredients Europe last year – we’re now bringing it to the region,” said Freeman.
Sugar still dominates
“If you look globally, there’s huge awareness and usage of high-intensity sweeteners, none more so than Splenda Sucralose – we’re talking about 22 million consumer occasions every day. The situation in the Middle East is still that sugar dominates, so use of high-intensity sweeteners is not widely adopted by manufacturers here – but we see this is now starting to change,” he added.
Tate & Lyle recently announced it had expanded its Middle East presence, with the intention of growing its sales in the region. According to Freeman, the firm has been building its regional team for the last 12 months, and now has a dedicated office, instead of agency partners, along with a technical team.
“We have six people in the team here in the UAE, and from there this will be our base to grow the business in the Middle East. But also from there we’ll use it to oversee our business in North Africa and Turkey,” said Freeman.
“Our vision at Tate & Lyle is to become a global leader in speciality food ingredients – obviously that involves growing all the regions where we’re already present, and we do that with collaboration with customers and innovation. But it also means we need to grow in more ‘white space’ regions – emerging markets such as the Middle East,” he added.