Die Debatte zum Thema „Low sugar“ ist in Europa bereits gestartet. Tara Munday, Director der europäischen Food & Beverage Practice von Ketchum London, reflektiert die richtige Kommunikationsstrategie für Marken in der heutigen Zeit, in der sie vor neuen Anforderungen zu „Low-Sugar“-Angeboten stehen.

Ein Beitrag aus unserem internationalen Foodmagazin “Inspired by Food No.2 – Ketchum’s Tasting Notes”:

low sugar or no sugar_großThe debate is already on across Europe and Tara Munday, Director of European Food & Beverage Practice from Ketchum London, reflects on the right communication strategy for brands in these times of new demands for low-sugar offerings.

Worldwide concern over increasing rates of obesity and related health consequences has grown significantly over recent years. Scrutiny of the role of refined carbohydrates in the global epidemics of obesity and type 2 diabetes and the new recommended guidelines for sugar consumption from the World Health Organization (WHO ) mean that calorie content in food and beverages is a hotter topic than ever before.

The guidelines from the WHO recommend that sugars should be less than 10 per cent of total energy  intake per day, with a further conditional recommendation that intakes should fall below 5 per cent of
daily energy from free sugars (around 30 grams a day for adults). This conditional recommendation has been adopted in the UK, where it is expected to lower calorie intakes and help drive down obesity risk.
These guidelines will certainly add pressure to policymakers and the food industry to adapt their product formulations. Be it consumer demand or regulatory pressure, it is clear that leading food and beverage
companies are looking for more flexible and versatile ways to tailor the calorie content of their products to their target consumer audiences, all without compromising on taste, of course. So, once viewed as specialist products for people adhering to weight loss diets or living with diabetes, products containing non-nutritive sweeteners have made the leap from niche to mainstream. Today, no and low calorie
versions of a vast range of foods and drinks are available, containing a variety of sweetener types from artificial sweeteners such as aspartame to the more recent plant-derived stevia.

The UK dietician and media commentator Dr Carrie Ruxton says: “The focus on sugar is likely to continue for some time and cannot be ignored. Manufacturers will need to examine their product portfolios to decide whether reformulation is possible or whether other strategies involving portion size, marketing, promotion or consumer messaging are more appropriate. Consumers are increasingly interested in sugar and will be looking to the industry to provide more information about product ingredients, including the type of sugar and sweeteners used. The discord between labelling laws, which require total sugars to be declared on pack, and recommendations, which are couched as ‘free sugars’, will remain a challenge for both industry and health educators.” Consumer and media interest in sugar is increasing significantly across Europe. Recently, the UK government announced guidelines in line with the WHO recommendations. It won’t be long before other European nations follow suit. However, the popularity of low and no sugar options demonstrates that consumers still want to be able to enjoy sweet-tasting drinks and snacks. So how do manufacturers meet this consumer need and desire for less
sugar without changing the taste of their popular brands? Replacing sugar poses different challenges for different categories in different markets. Manufacturers are looking to the ingredient industry to help provide innovative ingredients to help meet this expanding consumer demand.

Consumers today have high awareness of the link between nutrition and weight loss, so perhaps health and weight management are closely linked when it comes to calorie reduction motivation factors. Views on weight have changed, with there now being a much bigger emphasis on achieving a healthy weight versus being slim or overweight. According to a new trends report from New Nutrition Business,
the weight management market is at a tipping point and consumers are now looking to ‘everyday foods’ for weight wellness over diet foods. “Consumers are switching to regular foods to maintain weight wellness,” said the report’s author Julian Mellentin. “People’s desire to maintain a healthy weight is the biggest influence on the key trends in food and health.” Creating a communications strategy for brands to help with this new demand for low-sugar offerings of their favourite foods cannot be underestimated. Consumers want a new relationship with food. They want to know what’s in their food, how it gets there, how the people who make it are treated and how food companies behave in nature and in the community. What they sometimes get is confusing, often contradicting or incomprehensible messages from the food industry.

If food companies are going to embrace this new relationship with consumers, they must figure out how to make sense of it all in a way that acknowledges consumer concerns and provides credible information
that is understandable to an average person.