Sugar helps the spreadability of cookies as well as crunch and shelf life. Source: Cargill

When shoppers inspect food labels in 2018, they will find something different. New labeling guidance put forth by the Food & Drug Administration (F.D.A.) and taking effect July 26, 2018, will change the “sugars” line on the Nutrition Facts Panel to “total sugars,” with “added sugars” as a sub-category listed below.

“It’s clear that consumers are watching labels very carefully and are pressuring manufacturers to provide healthier and reduced-sugar alternatives,” said Jon Peters, president of Beneo, Inc. 

Recent consumer research by HealthFocus International revealed that 63% of respondents indicated they try to avoid or limit sugar. Research by Ipsos from 2016 showed that two out of three respondents thought that naturally derived sweeteners from fruits, vegetables and plants are healthier.

“The new added-sugar labeling is motivating brands to reduce the added sugars in their products, and, as a result, they are seeking alternate methods to achieve the cleaner labels and taste profiles their consumers desire,” said Paul Verderber, vice-president of sales, Carolina Innovative Food Ingredients.

While consumers may be wary of sugar right now, they are even more averse to artificial sweeteners. This leaves bakers looking for alternative replacements to handle the bulk and function sugar and its artificial alternatives bring to the table.

The more recognizable these ingredients are the better. For those bakery products that can benefit from a unique flavor profile, honey can prove to be a useful label-friendly sugar reduction solution. Honey is sweeter than sugar, so less is necessary to achieve the same level of sweetness, but it also has the bulk and functional attributes sugar has.

Carolina Innovative Food Ingredients used its expertise in sweet potatoes to launch sweeteners made from sweet potatoes. Carolina Sweet, the company’s sweet ¬potato-based clean label sweetener, adds neutral sweetness and a high water-holding capacity.

Plant-based sweeteners such as sweet potato contribute a healthy halo to a formulation as well as label-friendly names to the ingredient list. Source: Carolina Innovative Food Ingredients

ADM has a wide range of plant-based natural sweetening alternatives, including honey powder, dry molasses, dried fruits and Fruit-Up, which delivers sweet flavor from fruits.

Naturally derived high-potency sweeteners can work in tandem with other bulk and functional ingredients to create a label-friendly system.

“Sugar creates a lot of volume,” said Thom King, president and chief executive officer of Icon Foods, formerly Steviva Ingredients. “This volume can be compensated for by using bulking compounds such as soluble corn fiber and inulin. Additionally, a blend of stevia and erythritol or monk fruit and erythritol can make for an excellent plug-in replacement for sugar.”

Icon Foods offers two such products: Erysweet plus stevia erythritol blend and MonkSweet plus Monk Fruit-Stevia Sweetener.

“The strategy we employ is to use a high-intensity sweetener such as PUREFRUIT Monk Fruit Extract, which is highly effective in muffins, brownies, cookies, sweet bread and baked cereal bars that are typically high in sugar,” said Sarah Scholl, food scientist, bakery team lead, Tate & Lyle, of the company’s sugar replacement methods.

Tate & Lyle also offers DOLCIA PRIMA Allulose, a low-calorie sweetening ingredient. Allulose is a sugar found in wheat, figs and raisins that delivers much of the same taste and texture of sucrose with only 10% of the calories and improvements in shelf life over time. It works well in rolls, cakes, pies, pastries, cookies and frostings due to its similarities to sucrose.

Cargill’s Versyra reduced-sugar corn syrup is another plant-based sweetener. It can be blended with corn syrup solids and inulin chicory root fiber to lower sugar.

“It’s label-friendly,” said Bill Gilbert, certified master baker, Cargill.

Versyra appears on the label as corn syrup and glucose syrup, he continued. Versyra is 25% as sweet as sugar so may need to be used in tandem with a high-potency sweetener. This reduced-sugar corn syrup, however, is easy for processing in a plant because it has the same flowability characteristics as high-sugar corn syrups.

Sucromalt is another clean label alternative from Cargill, one originally intended for the beverage industry but has found use in bakery as well. This low-glycemic index syrup is 70% as sweet as sucrose and can replace corn syrups one-to-one.

With many options available, bakers should work with suppliers to ensure products meet consumer demands and quality standards. Find resources for sweeteners by