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December 4, 2018

Rethinking sweet

Asad Amin // WTF FOOD

Rising concerns about obesity and diet-related illnesses have prompted regulatory pressure on food manufacturers to cut sugar from their products.

Slightly more than half of Americans say they consume more sugar than the recommended limit, according to the Ipsos Global Trends report. The Canadian Food Service Monitor study by Ipsos showed that reducing sugar is a top concern for diners who are generally trying to reduce processed and unhealthy ingredients and replace them with more natural choices. But people do still like their sweets. So how can brands lower sugar content without alienating consumers or forcing them to change their behaviors to benefit from less sugar? Should companies go stealth when tweaking their formulas or be up front about it?

For brands to have successful reformulations means understanding the three product characteristics that drive consumer preference: physical attributes and variables, sensory components and consumer response. Based on extensive statistical modeling of this data, Ipsos created a simulator to dial up or down these characteristics against current recipes. That helps companies understand how ingredient changes influence other existing product attributes. By judging how people like the sweetness, texture, and emotional and sensory satisfaction of new formulas, these simulations can shape potential new recipes.

Communication is another make-or-break factor. Consumers are especially tuned in to the flavor changes from sugar reductions or replacements with alternative sweeteners. Ipsos can test risk levels to determine which changes can be introduced quietly, transparently or in stages, and benchmark consumer validation of those changes.

Asad Amin

Asad Amin is a vice president with Ipsos and the resident Canadian consumption expert. He leads the syndicated Foodservice Monitor and the FIVE tracking studies.


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, Vice President, Consumption, Ipsos

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