More consumers than ever before are studying the labels of food and beverage products to see what they are eating and drinking. Worldwide 64% of consumers read the labels on food packages and one in three consumers around the globe are said to have increased their research on ingredients. Research also shows that 51% of UK consumers now look at the ingredients list, compared to 43% looking at nutritional information and 32% at health and nutritional claims.
According to a snacking report by Nielsen, health is unsurprisingly one of the main trends currently driving innovation in the snacking category, with 45% of consumers looking for healthy snacks and 41% wanting snacks that contain less sugar. Interestingly, 40% of consumers also expect to pay a premium for healthy/functional snacks, compared to their non-healthy alternatives.
With healthy snacking being such a focus, producers are looking to functional ingredients like naturally derived sugar replacers to create healthier profile snacks, including those provided by BENEO.
The search is on for guilt-free indulgence
According to BENEO research, the main motivation for consumers to reduce their sugar intake is its negative effects on their health, with 58% of respondents wanting to eat less sugar saying weight management is their biggest driver. This has led to more and more consumers searching for guilt-free indulgence. However, market research has shown that, for many, sourcing guilt-free treats still remains a challenge, with one third (34%) of UK consumers stating they feel guilty when they are snacking.
As sugar is crucial for taste, texture and mouthfeel, there are a range of technical and sensorial challenges that must be resolved to effectively reduce sugar and meet high consumer expectations at the same time. Despite this, sugar-reduced products have begun to make their presence felt in the healthy indulgence market thanks to the use of functional ingredients.
As with any product reformulation that involves cutting out sugar or fat, the main challenge is to maintain the same sweetness, mouthfeel and texture that is given by the original ingredient, whilst reducing its use.
Consumers want a better nutritional profile, but they still don’t want to make sacrifices when it comes to the overall indulgent experience conveyed by a good texture and great taste. Experts at the BENEO-Technology Center have done a lot of work developing recipe reformulations that meet these technical challenges using BENEO’s ingredients across a range of applications with positive results in trials.
Popcorn popularity continues
Latest research shows that the global popcorn market is forecast to experience an upward growth trajectory over the period of 2018-2026. This is driven by a switch in lifestyle towards ready-to-eat or easy-to-cook foods and people looking to make healthy choices. However, according to a survey by Consensus Action on Salt & Health (Cash), this “healthy snack” can contain unnecessary amounts of sugar with some cinema popcorn containing nearly 30 teaspoons of sugar – more than would be found in three cans of cola. As the spotlight on sugar grows increasingly bright and the healthy attributes of popcorn come under scrutiny, food manufacturers can create sugar-reduced popcorn products that meet the needs of today’s consumers.
Popcorn’s popularity has been largely put down to the snack’s flavour versatility and health credentials. However, previously considered to be a healthy snack, popcorn’s health credentials are being brought into question as consumers become increasingly aware of the high sugar and salt levels in some popcorn products. Food manufacturers are presented with an opportunity to use reformulation to maintain taste but reduce added sugar levels. Work done by the BENEO-Technology Center has shown that it is possible to create popcorn alternatives using ISOMALT that reduce the 10-20% traditionally found in sugar sweetened popcorn products to only 1%. ISOMALT is heat stable, ensuring that microwaveable popcorn is not scorched during its preparation. It also improves the nutritional profile of popcorn products, as well as its crunch, flavour and appearance.
Regionalisation of flavour-combinations
Recent research has shown that consumers want an emotional connection to what they eat. In order to revitalise confectionery sales in established markets, brands are being encouraged to develop confectionery flavours and textures which offer a memorable consumption occasion. Meanwhile a quarter of consumers worldwide are influenced by products containing low/no sugar when buying sugar confectionery.
With this in mind, BENEO worked with the company’s flavour development partner, Symrise to bring together exotic and ‘hyper-local’ ingredients that contained BENEO’s ISOMALT. The end result is an innovative range of sweets that really delivers in terms of appeal and impact. It includes:
- Garden Chills: A two coloured stamped candy in green and yellow that offers a refreshing taste of lemon, lime and garden-mint and reminds the consumer of warm summer days in an Italian garden
- Yuzu Candy: This hard-boiled candy contains the refreshing, tropical taste of the Asian fruit Yuzu, reminding consumers of their far-flung travels across the world
- Tropical Blossom: This swirl candy combines the fruity flavours of orange blossom, hibiscus and blood orange, enabling the consumer to sense the summer breeze from America’s Deep South.
As companies continue to adjust their product portfolios to embrace all things healthy and natural, the good news is that BENEO provides a range of functional ingredients to help create new opportunities within the exciting snacking arena in 2020.
 HealthFocus International Global Trend Study 2018
 BENEO Clean Label Consumer research 2018 (UK | Germany | USA, Apr-May 2018, N=3000 (1000/country))
 The power of snacking, Nielsen, 2018
 BENEO commissioned consumer research in five European countries (UK, Spain, Germany, France and Poland) on the perception of fibre. The survey was conducted in 2012/13 by Insites, a consumer research agency with offices in Belgium, the Netherlands, UK and the United States.
 Health Focus International 2018, Global Trend Study
 Mintel (2019)
 Innova Market Insights (2018)