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Sugar reduction: What are the opportunities that exist for manufacturers to develop new confectionery concepts?

By Thomas Schmidt

- Last updated on GMT

Beneo says its market intelligence experts are always looking to identify consumer trends. Pic:
Beneo says its market intelligence experts are always looking to identify consumer trends. Pic:

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Sugar reduction is now a key mindset for consumers across the globe, however sugar replacement is not a straightforward process, writes Thomas Schmidt, BENEO’s marketing director.

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.

So, what are the opportunities that exist for manufacturers to develop new confectionery concepts that respond to both of these consumer trends?

Figures show that two in three consumers love to discover new flavours, highlighting that tastes once traditionally associated with specific regions, such as matcha tea, are now becoming global favourites. Despite this, cultural food preferences still strongly influence purchases, even in the confectionery arena. This means confectioners are increasingly being challenged to combine global business objectives with regional demands across different markets.

With flavour innovation driving confectionery sales, particularly in locations such as the Asia-Pacific, we are increasingly seeing product launches tailored to regional consumer tastes. Some great examples of this include Mars Chocolate Candies in a Lahuasheng (spicy peanut) flavour in China and chocolate bars containing unique regional ingredients such as Australian wattleseeds, or Colombian mango with passion fruit in New Zealand.

Managing regional taste variations

As a functional ingredients supplier, Beneo works with a wide range of confectioners on recipe formulations. These days, we are increasingly looking beyond delivering benefits such as sugar reduction or replacement and improved glycaemic control. We are also supporting manufacturers with advice on regional taste differences.

To do this, we rely on our food technologists in our regional application centres, based in Europe, Asia and the USA, which are fully immersed in the key flavour trends striking a chord with consumers. Our experts work with customers and partners to develop bespoke product concepts that are tailored to the regional tastes are proving popular in each market, as well as having a better nutritional profile.

Working with key trends around the world

As well as tailoring to regional tastes, our team of market intelligence experts is always looking to identify consumer trends in each region.

In Europe alone, 50% of consumers are looking for more healthy sweets and 60% are saying that there are not enough healthy sweets available , highlighting an opportunity to tap into these key consumer motivators and help drive sales. While in the UK, we’re seeing a trend for healthy indulgence, with 1/3 of consumers (34%), always or most of the time, feeling guilty when they are snacking. These findings highlight the driving demand for functional confectionery that has a significantly improved nutritional profile, but still tastes like a treat.

However, addressing this consumer demand for healthy indulgence is no mean feat. We all know that taste is key for re-purchasing food products and using authentic flavours can allow consumers to experience memorable key moments again. Bringing the two elements taste and flavour together creates a winning combination that is crucial for experiencing emotional memories.

This is why BENEO is working closely with its local partners and customers around the world to ensure the recipes and samples developed meet regional taste preferences. With our most recent Sweets Collection of sugar-free candies, we have brought sensorial immersion to life and made authentic flavours perceptible, to help our customers tap into the latest trends driving the category.

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