Balancing Sweetness: A How-to Guide
Written by Creme Global
In January 2021 Poland became the latest EU country to roll-out a so-called sugar tax. The main focus for the Polish Ministry of Health was to combat the obesity problem by promoting healthy dietary choices, and improving the quality of the population’s diet. Similar taxes on sweetened beverages or foods are already in place in numerous EU countries such as Denmark, Hungary, Poland, France and Ireland. Over recent years, we’ve seen growing commitment from many global food brands to improve the nutritional value of their products, which is often achieved through product reformulation.
Reformulated products aim to deliver better nutritional value, but the process opens an interesting challenge to balance the familiar taste, texture, scent and appearance that customers love, whilst changing the original recipe. Interestingly the quantity of sugar affects a huge range of properties from texture to appearance, so replacing sugar is not a matter of simple substitution.
So how do you balance a lower-sugar product, whilst still maintaining a quality, delicious food with widespread customer appeal?
When it comes to beverages, the reformulation challenge is notably simpler, as the sweetness of the sugars can be replaced with far smaller quantities of sweeteners which delivers the desired calorie reduction. But the question of taste remains. In many other products, especially foods containing significant levels of starch combined with sugars, reformulation is a more challenging balancing act. Ideally you want some way to know that people will enjoy the newly changed product, before you begin changing anything. This is where data science and predictive modelling is perfectly placed to support an efficient, cost effective approach to healthier, new product development.
However accuracy is key for decision makers!
Advanced data science models like Creme Nutrition are very flexible and enable food manufacturers to easily examine the potential impact of proposed food reformulation and food replacement in the diet. You can then review the cost benefit of a reformulation before any changes are made. When matched up with industry-specific data, these models can become even more powerful in considering the business benefit of any product reformulation. A good example of this is Creme Global’s collaboration with Food Drink Ireland (FDI), documented in the FDI Evolution of food and drink in Ireland 2005 -2017 report.
Using aggregated data from a number of the top Irish food manufacturers allowed us to investigate intakes of these nutrients before and after the reformulated products were on the market. Additional accuracy was achieved by applying market share data for each of the products, thereby providing crucial predictive insights that reformulated products would have on Irish consumers’ health.