As sugar seems to be at the top of the public enemy lists lately, companies are developing different strategies to alter formulations. We’ve looked into some of the strategies adopted by manufacturers and how ingredients specialists bring new solutions on the market.
Research company Innova Market Insights identifies four strategies adopted by companies. These are future opportunities to lowering sugar intake, unlocked through mainstream strategies, more emerging strategies, or a combination:
1. Sugar substitution: two in five US consumers use sweeteners, because they like the sweet taste but want to reduce the calorie intake.
2. Sweet science: Patent activity is thriving in natural sweeteners: a 42% growth in allulose publications is just one indicator of this research trend.
3. Sugar reduction – three in five US consumers would rather cut back on sugar than consume alternative sweeteners.
4. Beyond sweetness – one in two US consumers prefers savory to sweet taste in an afternoon snack.
Perfect Sweeteners for Baked Goods
We have looked into the most popular sweeteners among baked goods producers to learn what makes them favorite choices. Peter Velds, Cargill bakery specialist, shared his views with us.
In sweet bakery, full-calorie sweeteners are often used, like maltodextrins and spray- dried glucose syrups. Glucose-fructose syrups are widely used in fruit preparations, jams, bake-stable fillings, and candied fruits since fructose and dextrose occur naturally in all fruits and are the main sugars in glucose-fructose syrups, the specialist explained. Syrups enable controlled browning, matching the color profile of bakery products such as gingerbread or rusks. They retain moisture in the end-product, creating an important shelf life extension over sucrose, and they are cost-effective alternatives for more expensive invert sugar (a mixture between two simple sugars, glucose and fructose, made by heating sucrose with water). Velds added that polyols can not be used in any added-sugar or low-sugar products. Polyols can replace both the bulk and the
sweetness of sucrose. They are lower in kcal in comparison with sucrose (2.4 kcal/g, with the exception of erythritol, which is 0 kcal/g). Maltitol is the closest to sucrose in terms of relative sweetness, while sorbitol is often used as a humectant, to keep products soft and moist longer.
When customers want to create sugar-reduced products, soluble fibers such as resistant dextrins hold many benefits. Fibers are positively perceived by consumers and are label-friendly ingredients. They only have 2 kcal/g versus 4 kcal/g in sucrose, and thus enable calorie reduction on top of sugar reduction.
What Makes Sweeteners Suitable for Bakery
Sugar is highly functional in bakery applications. When formulating with sweeteners, it is very important that both functional characteristics and taste are as close to sugar as possible. To choose the right ingredients, there are various elements that need to be taken into account. These include, according to the specialist:
• Type of bakery product. For biscuits, crispiness and bite are important, along with sweetness and browning control. In contrast, for cakes and muffins, softness and shelf-life extension are key considerations, in addition to sweetness and cost control. To be successful, sweetening solutions must take into account the specific functional characteristics most important for that specific application.
• Product claims. When choosing sweeteners, it is also important to define sugar content and calorie objectives. Is it a no added sugar/sugar-free product, a product reduced in sugar, or a full-calorie end-product? This will determine which solutions can be used from a regulatory point of view.
• Other goals. Finding the right solution also depends on meeting additional customer requests, such as being label-friendly, allowing fiber enrichment or claimable calorie reduction.
How Can Acacia Gum Help Reformulate
Formulating sugar-free or sugar-reduced products to reach satisfactory organoleptic profiles and low-calorie content involves new formulation and can be challenging, Violaine Fauvarque, marketing manager at Alland& Robert, said. As a texturing agent bringing low viscosity, Acacia gum is a solution proposed by the company. It will help compensate the loss of volume, texture, and mouthfeel in sugar-reduced products. The rheology of the products will be improved by acacia gum, and it will favor nice colors and flavors. Acacia gum is also known to bring stability factors by reducing water activity.
Additionally, it improves the softness and mouthfeel thanks to an increase of water retention. Finally, acacia gum can be used in combination with sweeteners, the specialist explained. For example, the loss of creaminess and bitterness that occurs in sugar-free food can be compensated by a mix of polyols such as sucralose and acacia gum. It can also help with the addition of isomalt. Acacia gum will have a masking effect on the aftertastes sometimes generated by sweeteners and act as a bulking agent, Fauvarque underlined.
Finally, Acacia gum also helps with the glycemic response of food and drinks: studies have shown that it lowers the peak glucose response. “The consumption of products where acacia gum is partially or totally replacing sugars is inducing a lower glycemic response than products not containing acacia gum. Thus acacia gum is a great asset for the formulation of healthy products, sugar-reduced and sugar-free products, and reduced glycemic index products. Acacia gum benefits can be measured in areas such as bowel function, gut health, immunity, blood glucose control, and glycemic index,” Fauvarque said.
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