ASIA Sweegen helping APAC customers overcome hurdles in sugar reduction to create winning products April 2021

Across a wide spectrum of foods and beverages, brands across Asia Pacific are actively reducing sugar and artificial sweeteners to meet the growing demands of consumers for products that deliver a healthier lifestyle. The goal is to create consumer preferred winning products, but to arrive at this milestone, there are hurdles to overcome in the development process. This is especially true in achieving synergy between sweetness and flavors while reducing sugar in different applications.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for reducing sugar in products. As product developers consider their options for optimal taste and sweetness, other factors such as scale, cost, timing, manufacturing, regulatory, and of course consumer preferences drive decisions and trade-offs. Perhaps the biggest challenge in a product developer’s experience in sugar reduction is delivering a consumer preferred product that satisfies everyone along the value chain.

So, the need for sugar reduction solutions that incorporate taste modulators to fine tune overall taste and sweetness is a real need.

Consumers are more label conscious when it comes to sugar than ever before. The complexity of regulatory landscapes across different countries further complicates an already challenging process to meet the demand for products with less sugar.

A key decision point for food and beverage manufacturers is often what will appear on the label for a new or reformulated product. Regulatory and labeling requirements come into play here. The rise in obesity and healthcare costs globally means that governments are tackling the issue with a range of responses from implementing sugar taxation policies to stricter labeling of higher sugared food and beverage products, especially products targeted to children.

Sweegen, a broad-based sugar reduction solutions provider, is an industry leader in delivering a wide range of solutions to help customers reach their sugar reduction goals. “Our clients do not want to incur a tax to their bottom line and they do not want their consumers to incur this cost either.  To remedy the situation, they either keep the product on the market as is for the consumers who prefer to pay the sugar tax and develop a new lower sugar or zero sugar offering or they reduce the sugar to just below the taxation level,” said Lewis Tessarolo, Senior Director Business Development for Sweegen.

When concerns about putting a sweetener on the label come into play, the benefits of using flavors with modifying properties (FMPs) to reduce sugar become important. With the advances in FMP technologies, Sweegen is finding success in getting sugar levels below the taxation level. With advances in taste modulation options, the use of flavors in many cases can reduce sugar by up to 50% without needing to put an additional sweetener into the formulation. 

Specifically in beverages, the level of sugar reduction achievable with taste modulation ingredients and techniques depends on the brix level in the formulation. Up to 50% sugar reduction is achievable through natural flavors if brands are replacing sugar in products that are 10 brix or lower. In some countries, where sugar content is higher than 10 brix, the challenge increases, but new ingredient innovations are in the pipeline that will likely enable reductions of up to 80% sugar in the future using taste modulation techniques.

Sweegen’s Flavors for Taste Modulation is a new portfolio of non-GMO, clean label natural flavors offering both liquid and powder options. The sugar reduction line of natural flavors includes a range of sweet modifiers, including a brown sugar replacer and a chocolate sweet modifier plus bitter blockers and flavor for linger control, mouthfeel enhancement, and astringency reduction.  Sweegen offers both stevia-based and non-stevia based FMPs that can offer solutions to a wide range of challenges related to sugar reduction.

Sweegen’s Flavor for Taste Modulation portfolio is unique in the industry because of the company’s vertical integration from discovery to production that leverage proprietary technologies in bioconversion and fermentation-based production. This expertise in bioconversion and fermentation provides the company with agility in production of unique and proprietary taste modulators, both that are commercially available today and also in company’s innovation pipeline. The ability to identify a pipeline of effective ingredients for sugar reduction, optimise them in application, and successfully bring them to market is enabling Sweegen to address the needs of product developers struggling to satisfy the constituents in the value chain when it comes to sugar reduction.  With greater accessibility to a variety of flavors in the sugar reduction toolkit, the possibilities for a winning solution increase dramatically.

If 100% sugar reduction is required, Sweegen’s Bestevia® Taste Solutions platform is a range of custom-tailored solutions with a foundation of steviol glycosides and building blocks that may contain natural flavors, bulking agents, functional ingredients, or texturants to provide an all-in-one solution to deliver the best tasting sugar reduction.

The overall hurdle in development is to develop zero-sugar added products that have the right sensory profile. This task comes with many challenges. “The first challenge is taste and mouthfeel.  The upfront sweetness of sugar is the most challenging when the target is a full sugar product.  There is a very distinct hit of sweetness with sugar and then it trails off.  With high intensity sweeteners one gets a delayed onset of sweetness and a lingering,” said Paul Courtney, New Product Development Director for Sweegen.

Sweegen breaks down the challenges faced in developing several applications. Different categories present their own set of challenges when reducing sugar. The obstacles in beverages are the upfront sweetness, mouthfeel and cost-in-use. In confectionary, sugar has a functionality and plays a key role in the structure of the confection so without sugar or a bulking agent or gum, there is less structure needed for confection.  “For confectionary flavor, it is the sweetness that carries the flavor and the upfront sweetness, controlling the linger and mouthfeel is required to carry that flavor through the taste experience,” said Paul. Dairy applications are very much like confections. In frozen dairy products, sweetness plays a key functional role in the structure of the frozen product.  In milks and yogurt, upfront sweetness and mouthfeel is a key challenge. Paul explains the solution for these applications. He added, “We look to our taste modulators to build back the mouthfeel and produce the upfront sweetness and control the linger while in yogurt we reduce the astringency we experience when reducing sugar.”

Sweegen’s global footprint is driven by its aggressive global regulatory approvals. The company has a wide range of approvals throughout the Asia Pacific market. To learn more about Sweegen’s flavor and sweetness solutions, visit




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