Mintel had more than 100 products on display and asked attendees to taste them and choose their favorites from three categories: Purity, Sweeteners and Functional.
During a Mintel presentation on sweeteners at the event, new product expert Lynn Dornblaser said: “Pepsi Natural is a product to watch. It is sold at a premium, but is still very mainstream and doing well with consumers.”
She was proved right, at least amongst attendees, when the sugar-sweetened drink came out on top in the purity category. Nestle Milkybar White Moments came second, and tied for third were True North Peanut Clusters and Bissinger's Naturals Pomegranate White Tea Gummy Pandas.
There has been an industry-wide trend away from all kinds of artificial ingredients, including artificial colors and sweeteners, on the back of consumer demand. According to the Mintel Global New Products Database, ‘natural’ is the leading claim on new product labels and was included on 23 percent of foods and beverages launched last year.
The sweeteners category did not include sugar, and Lotte Zero sugar-free chocolate from Japan came out on top. In second place, riding the momentum of the ‘natural’ trend, was Sprite Green, sweetened with Truvia. Third was Breyers Double Churn No Sugar Added butter pecan ice cream, sweetened with Splenda.
Although the high intensity sweetener category is still growing, Dornblaser said she expects consumer demand for natural products to lead them and manufacturers back to “good old-fashioned sugar.”
In the functional category, Kellogg's FiberPlus Antioxidants chewy bars took first place, followed by Cubio Gummies containing collagen and Leclerc Praeventia Almond and Apple bars with prebiotic fiber and antioxidants.
“Ultimately, if something tastes good and has added benefits, it will do well in the marketplace," said Dornblaser.