By: Darrin Duber-Smith
Sugar isn't just used as a sweetener. In some chocolate products, for example, it is used to give the finished product a smoother texture. If you remove sugar from ice cream, as another example, the result is a product that is very, very hard. Sugar also acts as a preservative, enhancing shelf stability. Indeed food chemists must come up with a number of substitute ingredients to compensate for the lack of sugar. But it does look like sugar, for the most part, is on the outs, and so it is up to product developers to figure out ways to cope with this new market reality. So what's the future hold?
Many researchers believe that low and zero-calorie solutions are more likely to be found in nature rather than in a laboratory, and of course the growth of natural products in general over the past several decades supports this assertion. Increasingly, consumers are shunning artificial flavors, colors and preservatives, and so that option is fraught with challenges of its own. But the natural sweeteners that are currently on the market have problems of their own, a bitter aftertaste being among them. The race is on. And you can bet that necessity is the mother of invention, so hopefully several new options will emerge in the near future as consumer attitudes drive the need for product developers to change what they have been doing. The industry is betting billions that it can find solutions, and "The Marketing Concept" lives on!
Discussion: Can you think of any other industries undergoing a shift such as this one? What are some of the similarities and differences between the two situations?
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