Successful sugar reduction: 7 things every brand should know

Successful sugar reduction: 7 things every brand should know

You must be living under a rock if you haven’t heard of the sugar reduction trend taking over the food and beverage industry yet. Sugar reduction is not any more “nice to have”; it is but a necessity.

As a result of growing awareness among consumers, stringent government guidelines, and a voluntary decrease in sugar consumption by pioneers in the food and beverage industry, the sugar reduction market is flourishing and is forecasted to grow at a CAGR of 8.76% over the period 2021-2027.

Major drivers of the movement

The trend came as a result of several factors such as the introduction and implementation of the sugar tax in more than 50 nations, consumers inclination towards purchasing more healthful and wholesome products, stringent government guidelines for addition and labeling of added sugars, voluntary reduction in the sugar content by renowned food and beverage brands, and the rise in cases of diabetes and obesity.

What do consumers want?

The reasons for reducing sugar in product formulations may be different for different regions and organizations but today’s health-conscious consumers are clearly loving the range of options available to them.  Low/no sugar products presently cater not just to weight watchers or people managing diabetes but to a larger population that is avoiding the sweet poison with long-term wellness plans in mind. As per 2019, Euromonitor International, Health and Nutrition Survey, conducted globally, limiting the intake of refined sugar was the third most popular consumer action among individuals trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Although consumers had been watching out for the sucrose content for some time, significant acceleration in aversion was brought upon by Covid 19. With the pandemic uprooting the mental, physical, and social wellbeing at large, consumers have started paying more attention to what they eat and how it affects their health.

That being said, taste and indulgence still top consumer priorities when it comes to low and no sugar delicacies. To make your product stand out in the market among others, the taste has to be a hit among consumers. Another factor to consider is the consumer’s objection to artificial sweeteners. After dominating the market for a long time, artificial sweeteners now stand in line with sugar, needless to say, consumers are avoiding them. Several market studies have concluded that natural sweeteners like Stevia, monk fruit, etc., are being widely favored over artificial sweeteners.

Industry response

Acknowledging the current scenario, several businesses have responded by opting for different strategies like:

  • Reducing sugar in existing products via product reformulation.
  • Diversifying portfolio by launching and promoting new lower sugar sub-lines.
  • Increasing portion control options by reducing serving sizes for one sitting.
  • Experimenting with different sugar substitutes.

Key players and their policies

  • Nestle claims to have achieved a 4.5% reduction since 2017.
  • Coca-Cola Co. claims to have removed nearly 125,000 tons of added sugar through recipe changes in 2020. 
  • Unilever claims to have reduced the sugar content across all sweetened tea-based drinks by 23% and across the Pepsi–Lipton joint venture by 29% since 2010.
  • PepsiCo expanded the availability of Pepsi Zero around the world.
  • Dannon cut the sugar content in 78% of its products – including all products intended for children.
  • Kellogg’s also claimed to have removed almost 11,000 metric tons from the diet of consumers since 2011 in the UK.

Challenges of sugar reduction

Sugar serves more to a product than adding just sweetness, so when removing it from a product recipe, the formulation has to be compensated for multiple other functionalities, such as: 


  • Mouthfeel
  • Bulk
  • Texture
  • Color
  • Flavor
  • Preservation
  • Fermentation

How to successfully reduce sugar in your product

Contrary to how sugar reduction sounds, it is a fairly technical and challenging process and requires careful consideration of numerous aspects mentioned above. Even then, it can be successfully achieved by paying attention to two important considerations before plunging into the formulations part.

  1. The first step is defining the goal and purpose of sugar reduction. Depending on the goal, whether a partial or complete replacement is required, the solutions and approach will be different. 
  2. Selecting the right solution is another important step. The right solution to replacing sugar in a product recipe depends on multiple factors such as product category, consumer acceptance for the substitute, regulatory guidelines, label claims to be attained, etc.

The best approach

The best approach is to work with an ingredient supplier who can also guide you through the complete sugar reduction and replacement course. Working with such a supplier can significantly help lower your product launch time.

At Arboreal, we have gathered tremendous know-how around reducing sugar in different product recipes using Stevia and are always open to sharing the same knowledge with our clients. Using our outstanding Stevia solutions and free formulations support, around 85+ brands have successfully launched low sugar products in the market. To avail our services for your product recipe, click here.