The Swedish research company launched the Sugar Reduced Community platform earlier this month in a bid to speed up industry and society’s “slow” reduction of sugar in foods.
The platform aims to facilitate communication between members of the food and beverage industries, provide information for consumers and make sugar reduction a corporate social responsibility (CSR) issue.
One of its eventual goals is to create profitable business models for companies cutting sugar in products, which will enable real changes on supermarket shelves, Bayn's managing director Lucy Dahlgren told FoodNavigator.
“There needs to be a more profitable business model for companies committing to producing healthier alternatives. We hope that increasing public demand on less sugar could be one of the main keys to solve this,” she said.
“People keep on consuming sugary products, and food and beverages companies keep on producing them,” despite scientific evidence that sugar leads to health problems and mounting health care costs, she noted.
“We are in need of a more holistic approach; looking at public awareness to make sure that people take greater care of their health and put demand on healthier alternatives, uniting the food and beverage industry and make it a top priority for them to produce and sell food and beverages with less sugar.”
The community will also run case studies on existing sugar-reduced products on the market to look at successful, profitable strategies and lessons for failures.
The Sugar Reduced Community is now in discussions with companies, researchers and universities which could join the platform.
At present, the website does not list Bayn as a founder, though Dahlgren told us a ‘founders and supporters’ page will be added soon with these details in the interests of transparency.
“We want to present the initiative as a collective force, so that the public sees that the industry and scientific community are working together to make a difference and to take action,” she said.
Putting more pressure on governments to take action is also crucial – and not just by introducing taxes, Dahlgren stressed.
In the still raging sugar tax debate, Dahlgren is against.
“As a whole, I don’t think that sugar tax is the right way forward in the sugar reduction debate,” she said, since shoppers will continue to consume sweet foods despite their cost to satisfy their cravings.
“A sugar tax will just mean that the public spend more of their money on unhealthy foods.”
A better solution could be putting more money into research on natural sugar alternatives and the best ways to use them in popular products.
“There is no universal ingredient that can replace sugar, but there are natural ingredients that can be used together to replace sugar to still obtain a sweet taste, the right mouth-feel and the same texture,” Dahlgren explained.
Industry could also pump more funding into its own R&D for sugar alternatives, she added.