Hydrosol technologists and scientists have developed a new line of sugar reduction solutions based on stabilizing and texturing systems. Innovation has determined the optimum interplay of individual components in various food products. The result is individual ingredient combinations for foods like yogurt, drinking yogurt, mixed milk drinks and pudding, as well as for fruity refreshing drinks, energy drinks, ketchup and plant-based whipping creams.
Sugar reduction in foods is a topic of great interest around the world. In Germany, retailers are advertising the lower sugar content of their house brands. In Great Britain, since April of this year, there has been a sugar tax on soft drinks. In other European as well as Latin American countries, nutrition traffic lights on packaging alert consumers to the sugar percentage in foods. In India, regulation to this effect is currently being finalized. Just yesterday we reported the results of a new study which showed that a majority of US consumers check for sugar content, while earlier this week a new study showed how dairy manufacturers were innovating to reduce sugar content in dairy products.
The main driver for all this activity is the ominous increase in obesity on all continents, that is increasingly being linked to high sugar consumption. It is, therefore, no surprise that the number of sugar-reduced or sugar-free products is growing rapidly around the world.
Soft drinks and dairy products are among the fastest-growing categories for new product activity, according to Innova Market Insights data. This growth is NPP is set to continue, as obesity is a key risk factor for cardiovascular diseases that are a major strain on healthcare systems, and more and more governments are devoting attention to the issue. The new need is “low sugar,” and new solutions from retailers and industry are in higher demand than ever.
And here is where the challenge lies. From a technological point of view sugar has many desirable properties. It binds water, acts as a preservative, and is very readily soluble. Most importantly, it gives products flavor, body, texture and a pleasant mouthfeel. Merely replacing sugar with intensive chemical sweeteners or alternative sweeteners is generally not a viable alternative for food manufacturers from a technical standpoint. Instead, they try to replicate the many functions of sucrose through combinations of other ingredients.
This is just what the new stabilizing and texturing systems from Hydrosol accomplish. “With our new stabilizing and texturing systems we can compensate for lower sugar content,” reports Katharina Schäfer, Product Manager Dairy & Deli Foods at Hydrosol. “The targeted combination of different individual components gives each product the desired qualities. Hydrocolloids and starch give stability, body and a pleasing texture, while special plant fibers improve mouthfeel.” A positive side effect is that if the fiber content is high enough, it can be marked on the product as an added health feature.
In terms of focus for the new systems, Schäfer notes to FoodIngredientsFirst that they will be particularly targeting dairy and deli food, beverages or vegan alternatives to dairy. “We see a demand for products that combine trends like plant-based products that are reduced in sugar and high in protein,” she adds.
In order to get the requisite sweetness, depending on customer wishes Hydrosol uses low-cost conventional sweeteners or raw materials like stevia, which has a positive image with consumers. Natural flavorings round out the flavor profile. “Our sister company OlbrichtArom even offers a ‘sugar booster,’ especially for sugar-reduced products. This natural flavoring amplifies the delicate sweetness in the final product without affecting its characteristic flavor,” explains Schäfer.
Hydrosol’s new functional systems enable different sugar contents as desired, from sugar-reduced to sugar-free. “A reduction by 30 to 50 percent is relatively easy for us to achieve in most products. We follow European food law,” says Schäfer. This states that foods and beverages can be labeled as “reduced sugar” if they have at least 30 percent less sugar than comparable products, as long as calorie content is not higher than comparable products. For labeling as “low sugar” the consistency is the determining factor. Solid foods like yogurt can contain no more than 5g sugar per 100g food. For milk beverages, soft drinks and other liquids the upper limit is 2.5g per 100ml. “Sugar-free” products may not exceed 0.5g sugar per 100g or 100ml.
In terms of specific technical considerations to keep in mind when applying these systems, she notes. “A reduction of sugar has influence on the dry mass of a product and this results in different product behavior. This is a reason why we need to work closely with our customers and can support in recipe formulation and technical adjustments on site,” she explains.
She notes that there is not one composition which is suitable for every kind of sugar reduction in products like e.g. yogurt. “Depending on the technical conditions like a homogenization step we need to adjust our blends individually for each customer. The complex mixtures can consist of stabilizing and texturing components or can be all-in-compounds which contain next to these ingredients, raw materials like flavorings and sweeteners,” Schäfer concludes.
Hydrosol GmbH & Co. KG headquartered in Ahrensburg near Hamburg, Germany, is a fast-growing international supplier of food stabilizers, with subsidiaries around the world. Its specialists develop and produce tailor-made stabilizer systems for dairy products, ice cream and desserts, delicatessen and ready meals, as well as meat, sausage and fish products. As a member of the independent, owner-operated Stern-Wywiol Gruppe with a total of twelve sister companies, Hydrosol can make use of many synergies.