Sugar is not a popular ingredient in the beverage industry right now. It’s been reduced, replaced or altogether erased from a significant portion of new drinks this year and it doesn’t look like its fortunes are going to change anytime soon.
The declining sugar trend is reflected in the latest beverage innovations that have been added to foodbev.com. Take a look at drink releases from the last two months for example:
Brands are quick to advertise a lack of sugar in their new releases and these companies often promote the apparent health benefits that accompany sugar reductions, or omissions.
Stevia has proven to be a popular sugar replacement in the soda category, with Coca Cola, PepsiCo and RC Cola all adopting the natural sweetener in the past few months as a means to facilitate sugar reduction. Coca Cola used it in Coca Cola Life, PepsiCo used it for Pepsi True and RC Cola used it in RC Cola Neo. Stevia is a low calorie ingredient which is said to possess a variety of health benefits and its rising popularity looks set to continue in 2015.
Sugar isn’t quite dead and buried yet though. The negative sugar shift has inevitably led to a niche market that still desires ‘vintage’ sugar-based drinks, which some believe evoke a feeling of ‘authenticity’. An example of this type of drink can be seen in sugar sweetened Fest Cola and PepsiCo’s Pepsi Made With Real Sugar, Pepsi Vanilla Made With Real Sugar and Pepsi Wild Cherry Made With Real Sugar beverages.
Sugar has also branched off into the packaging sector and is now being used to produce caps for the beverage industry. Tetra Pak, for example, has produced a plant-based polyethylene (bio-based) closure which starts out as sugar cane. This increases the renewable content of cartons and reduces the industry’s environmental footprint.
Even if sugar isn’t currently on everyone’s ingredient wish list, I believe there will always be a niche sector that embraces its imperfections and relishes sugar-based creations. It seems as if the packaging sector is beginning to appreciate sugar too and I predict we’ll be seeing a lot more bio-based packs and caps in the very near future. This is a transitional period for a beverage ingredient many of us grew up with and its refusal to leave the industry quietly is a testament to the product’s resilience.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2021
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