Answered: the crucial questions shaping product development

In the September edition of Food and Drink Technology, Carole Bingley, Technical Specialist for Reading Scientific Services Ltd (RSSL), answers the crucial questions shaping product development.

As sugar continues to come under fire, food and drink manufacturers urgently need to step up efforts to reformulate products. Faced with government-backed initiatives to reduce sugar content, along with public health campaigns and widespread media coverage fuelling a consumer backlash, the industry is under considerable pressure to show commitment to the cause.

This has prompted a major drive to work with alternative ingredients, which are capable of replicating one or more of the important functional and flavour characteristics traditionally provided by sugar. This is no easy task. Sugar is unique and cannot be replicated on a like-for-like basis. But one category which offers significant potential is sweeteners.

Encompassing a range of established artificial options, as well as a rapidly expanding group of naturally derived sweeteners, these ingredients are an important consideration in every sugar reformulation strategy – either alone or, more commonly, in carefully blended combinations. The challenge for formulators is to balance the benefits and drawbacks of each option in different applications – and arrive at a solution which not only performs within technical parameters, but also the wider market trends influencing consumer behaviour.

It’s a complex picture, but one which can be navigated with the help of some fundamental guiding principles.