Tapioca and agave syrups have become reliable alternative sweeteners because they share many of the functional benefits of traditional nutritive sweeteners. In this exclusive Baking & Snack Q&A, Alyssa Turner, product specialist with Ingredion Inc., Westchester, IL, details the trends these syrups serve.

Baking & Snack: What are some of the latest applications for alternative syrups?

Alyssa Turner: Options such as tapioca syrup have become reliable alternative sweeteners. These sweeteners allow many similar functional benefits as the more traditional nutritive sweeteners. We also see some alternatives, such as agave, which introduce a differentiated value proposition.

Tapioca and agave syrups are excellent alternatives available today.

Much more than just tequila, agave represents an “on trend” nutritive and naturally derived sweetener which can be used across applications. This versatile syrup is grown primarily in Mexico and can be used in formulation with other sweeteners or independently to provide an alternative to the status quo.

Glucose syrups from sources like tapioca can provide all the functionality formulators value in their corn based counterparts.

What are some of the advantages to using these syrups?

Tapioca syrup can also provide bulk, binding, sheen and other attributes, but at a milder sweetness level. Both Tapioca and agave are non-GMO.

The advantage to using agave is that it is natural and it doesn’t reduce bulk like a non-nutritive high potency sweetener. Agave can be used similarly or in tandem with corn derived syrups, and in formulation can provide superior ease of use compared to its high potency counterparts in the natural space. Tapioca syrup can also provide bulk, binding, sheen and other attributes, but at a milder sweetness level.

Are there any "special effects" bakers can achieve by employing some of these specialty syrups?

Tapioca is known for its very clean flavor profile, while agave can provide increased browning.

Agave may lead to increased browning compared to other sweeteners. Additionally, the ingredient may contain more caramel notes that other syrups. Tapioca on the other hand is known for its clean flavor profile.

What marketing opportunities are available when bakers use these syrups?

Both tapioca and agave are non-GM and allergen friendly.

Agave is naturally derived and can be used to sweeten baked goods. It stands the test of label readers while other sweeteners come under intense scrutiny. This on-trend angle makes agave the perfect choice for marketers and product developers searching for a naturally-derived, easy to use sweetness solution. Tapioca is a great source for non-GM glucose syrup with an allergen friendly label that is well trusted by consumers.