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The ice cream market and other frozen desserts are not in danger of disappearing. Product launch data from Innova Market Insights spanning 2013 to 2017 showed that introductions to the ice cream industry alone grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.4%, for a total of about 750 launches. But launches with a sugar claim, such as no sugar, low sugar, no added sugar, etc., had a CAGR of 10.9% for the same time period. Ice cream with a sugar claim now accounts for around 8.5% of launches, up from 6% in 2013.

The result: When it comes to frozen treats, low sugar content is in high demand. Carol May, CEO of Wisdom Natural Brands, said, “The majority of American adults – 68 to 70 percent – want to reduce the sugars in their diet. We are not talking about the intrinsic sugars found in milk or fruits and vegetables, but those sugars like cane or beet sugar, molasses, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), agave, honey and the like that are added to foods and drinks to improve taste.

Whatever the reasons, product developers pay attention. As Ravi Nana, Head of Polyols Technical Department at Cargill, said, “From a product development perspective, the request we have received the most is support for reduced-sugar formulations in dairy desserts. frozen. “

But, noted Christine Addington, Senior Dairy Technical Service Specialist at Cargill, while most sugar reduction calls, their teams’ addresses are for packaged ice cream, “visit any grocery store, and you can see the explosion of non-dairy vegan or vegetarian products. Especially in the space of non-dairy frozen desserts, many of our customers are aiming for a ‘healthy halo’, and as part of that, they want to control sugar levels. “

And anyone who operates in this space quickly sees it: Despite consumer concerns about sugar, the sweet taste still looms large. “There is generally no loss of interest in sweet tasting foods and drinks,” May said. “The quality of life is often seen as being improved by such pleasure. “

Pam Stauffer, Global Marketing Programs Manager at Cargill, agreed. “Adding ‘added sugars’ to the Nutrition Facts signs will likely encourage further innovation in the development of reduced-sugar products,” she speculated. “But some rules remain unchanged. Especially in indulgent categories, like frozen desserts, taste will continue to be the ubiquitous arbiter of success. Brands will need to balance offering indulgence and good taste while offering products with a solid nutritional profile. “

It’s hard to do, especially if it’s sugar on the frozen dessert list. “Traditionally,” Nana noted, “Sucrose has been the number one sugar used in these desserts. Corn syrups, corn syrup solids, and HFCS are also used in frozen treats, but to a lesser extent.

Sugar also didn’t reach that top spot by accident. As Brian Surratt, Principal Scientist at Cargill, explained, “Sugar is considered the gold standard of sweetness for a reason. Our expectations and perceptions of sweetness are based on the taste of sugar. When we start removing sugar from a formulation and replacing it with other sweeteners, it changes the way we interpret sweetness.

Find out more tips on formulating zero calorie, low calorie frozen desserts in INITIATEDReduced sugar in Digital Pulse frozen desserts.

Kimberly J. Decker is a Bay Area food writer. While her love of food led her to study food science at the University of California at Davis, her love of the written word prompted her to opt for a minor in English. Since then, she has worked in product development for the frozen food industry and has written on food, nutrition and the culinary arts, getting her hands on everything from cookbook projects for local chefs to communications for local chefs. company and regular appearances on industry journal pages. Reach her at [email protected].