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Kicking the sugar habit

Most modern consumers are concerned about reducing their sugar intake. Across the globe, shoppers can be seen standing in supermarket aisles, checking ingredients lists on the backs of packets before deciding to purchase.

In fact, in a 2019 Innova Market Insights survey, 65% of German consumers, 66% of British consumers and 72% of Spanish consumers said that sugar content influenced their purchase decisions.

Reducing sugar content comes with a range of technical challenges, however, as sugar’s role is far greater and more complex than just adding sweetness. “Sugar is a miracle ingredient,” says Adeline Duchatel, Application Lab Manager at Brenntag Food & Nutrition, France. “In addition to its taste function, this versatile raw material plays a crucial role in achieving texture, color, viscosity, mouthfeel and flavor.” Sugar can also act as a preservative, and it plays an important part in the fermentation process.

This is where Brenntag’s impressive product portfolio comes in – our substitution solutions often involve a carefully balanced combination of ingredients that mimic the various properties of sugar. “This plays to our strengths as we have so many options in our portfolio, thanks to our extensive network of suppliers,” says Steve Timms, Commercial Development Manager, Food & Nutrition, UK & Ireland.

Read more about how Brenntag supports to overcome the challenge...

The ‘no added sugar’ trend, which was very prevalent between 2015 and 2019, has given way to a ‘less sugar’ trend, coupled with demand for ‘healthier’ alternatives to white sugar. Sweeteners have lost momentum. This shift in sugar reduction approaches is closely linked to the clean label drive.

Adeline Duchatel, Application Lab Manager at Brenntag Food & Nutrition, France

Our regulatory expertise

At Brenntag Food & Nutrition, we can support you on all the regulatory and legal aspects, too. Terms such as ‘low sugar’, ‘sugar-free’ and ‘no added sugar’ (to name just a few) are used regularly these days – but our regulatory experts can always advise you on the legally correct claims you may use for your product. In addition, sugar intake guidelines and taxation regulations vary across the EU, but rest assured that we’re here to help you navigate these complex issues.

Watch our video.

The regulatory approach to sugar reduction

Adding value through local concepts

As a result of overwhelming consumer demand, we’ve been working with our local specialists to create a range of reduced-sugar concepts to suit preferences in local markets throughout the EMEA region. Think ice cream in Italy, shortbread in the UK, and crème brulee in France, among others. Retaining their original flavor profile, but with the added benefit of reduced sugar, our delicious concepts are sure to appeal to the hearts and minds of a wide range of consumers.

With our 12 Application and Development Centers in EMEA and an excellent network of application specialists, we can easily adjust our concepts to local requirements and regulations.

Discover our sugar-reduced local delicacies, developed by our local application experts from across EMEA:

  • Crème brûlée from France

    Crème brûlée with half the sugar

    With its origins in the 17th century, crème brûlée is a luscious French dessert composed of egg yolks, sugar, cream, vanilla and caramel. Sugar plays a very important role in crème brûlée, as it affects not only its sweetness but its mouthfeel, texture, appearance and flavor. In fact, one of crème brûlée’s most distinctive characteristics is the thin caramel shell that tops the delicious vanilla crème.

    Our challenge was to reduce the sugar content of the original dessert by 50% - without affecting its flavor and texture. The solution was to reduce the sugar in just the crème, while leaving the sugar content in the essential caramel layer intact. We achieved this sugar reduction using dry glucose syrup, and the result is a product that is just as creamy as the original. Interestingly, this slightly less sweet variation allows the flavor of fresh cream and eggs to shine through.

    Created by our application experts in our Food Application & Development Center in Amiens, France.

  • Peanut Hemp Bar from Germany

    Peanut Hemp Bar

    Traditionally, the main adhesion component in nut bars is glucose syrup. But since glucose syrup is high in calories and carbohydrates, the challenge was to find a way of replacing it without sacrificing structure.

    Our solution was to replace the glucose syrup with soluble fibers, while including a small amount of honey and sugar for sweetness and taste. For contemporary appeal, we made the surprising addition of hemp seeds.

    The outcome is a crunchy peanut snack bar that is low in sugar and high in fiber.

    Created by our application experts in our Food Application & Development Center in Essen, Germany.

  • Protein Chocolate Bar from Germany

    Low-sugar chocolate protein bar with added BCAA

    A highly popular staple in sports nutrition, protein bars must live up to their healthy reputation while minimising added sugar. Our challenge was to find a replacement for the high-carb, high-sugar glucose syrup that can be found in adhesion bars.

    Our solution was to replace the glucose syrup with soluble fibers, along with stevia for sweetness and with the added benefit of Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA). The result is a high-fiber, high-protein bar with a bonus: the indulgent taste of chocolate.

    Created by our application experts in our Food Application & Development Center in Essen, Germany

  • Jellies from Turkey

    Reduced sugar, vitamin-fortified jellies

    Creating a healthier, reduced-sugar jelly may seem like an impossible task, but we’ve shown it can be done while still maintaining appealing flavour, colour and texture.

    The solution lies in a combination of healthy sugars – apple juice concentrate instead of sucrose – and the use of maltodextrin syrup (containing around 20% sugar) instead of glucose syrup (around 55% sugar). An added benefit: our jellies are enriched with vitamins and minerals, and contain natural fruit powders and natural colours.

    The result is a healthier, tasty jelly that contains less sugar and is even good for you!

    Created by our application experts in our Food Application & Development Center in Istanbul, Turkey

  • Ice-cream from Italy

    Sugar-free ice-cream

    Second only to pasta, ice-cream is perhaps one of Italy’s most beloved culinary treats. In keeping with consumers’ desire for reduced sugar, our challenge was to create a sugar-free ice-cream with a low-glycaemic index, while maintaining the deliciously sweet and creamy characteristics of the original.

    The solution was an outstanding food compound based on vegetable fibre and sweeteners – along with delicious flavor, of course.

    Created by our application experts in our Food Application & Development Center in Padua, Italy.

  • Shortbread from the UK

    Reduced-sugar shortbread

    Loved by people of all ages, shortbread biscuits are a delicious treat enjoyed throughout the UK and beyond. The challenge was to create a reduced-sugar shortbread with the distinctive crumbly texture and taste of the original.

    Our solution was to reduce the sugars by using inulin; we took this one step further to create two variations: a sugar-reduced variety, using inulin; and a sugar-reduced, lower fat version, using a combination of inulin and oligofructalose. In both cases, sugar was reduced by 30% while maintaining the typical characteristics of shortbread that consumers expect.

    Created by our application experts in our Food Application & Development Center in Widnes, UK.

  • Cheesecake from the UK

    Calorie-reduced baked vanilla cheesecake

    As one of the most popular desserts in the UK, cheesecake is an ideal candidate for a reduced-sugar variant. With a base of crushed digestive biscuits, and topped with a thick, creamy layer of soft cheese, eggs and sugar, the challenge is to maintain sweetness and texture while reducing sugar by 30%. This demonstrates Brenntag’s capability to enable customers to reduce calories in their products.

    Our creative solution was to use a combination of sweeteners, reduced-fat dairy, tapioca starch (with its fat-mimicking properties) and a functional solution consisting of corn fibre and maltodextrin, as well as natural functional flavour, which boosts the inherent sweetness of the other ingredients. Impressively, this was achieved while employing only clean-label ingredients.

    Created by our application experts in our Food Application & Development Center in Widnes, UK.

  • Tortas de Aceite from Spain

    Sugar-free Tortas de Aceite

    A traditional product of Seville, Spain’s delicious puff pastry Tortas de Aceite are known for their uniquely light and crunchy texture – and for their sweetness, of course.

    The challenge was to create a tasty, sugar-free torta that could be produced using the same production process as the original. The solution was to substitute maltitol for the sugar, with outstanding results. Maltitol contains half as many calories as sugar, but with a sweetness very close to that of sugar, along with the added bonus of being tooth-friendly.

    The result is an impressive torta that is sugar-free, vegan, and even a source of fiber.

    Created by our application experts in our Food Application & Development Center in Granollers, Spain.

Get in touch

Do you want to learn more about our possibilties to reduce sugar in one of your products? Or are you interested in any of our local concepts? Please reach out and we'll be in touch soon.

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