The last few decades have shown a big shift in what drives the market: quick and easy access to information is creating more conscious consumers. This is particularly true of the millennial generation, which is information-savvy, vocal and has become the biggest driver in sustainable trends. Alongside these trends is the undeniable fact that consumers care more and more about their health. This is reflected in a variety of choices: sports, wellness and leisure, work, travel and—perhaps most noticeably—diet. For instance, 20 years ago, no one would have imagined that organic would generate such attention and demand. Yet, in only 10 years (2009-2018), organic food sales have doubled, breaking the $50 billion mark in 2018a.This, along with other rising health food trends, is shaping the market and creating an ever-shifting landscape for food producers to navigate.
Without question, consumers are increasingly aware of the heath impact of the foods they buy. A recent study by the International Food Information Council Foundation shows that the majority of consumers always check the label on a packaged food before buying it for the first time. Two in five “always” look for healthy options and half “sometimes” do. The indicators that "tell" consumers whether a food is in fact healthy include the presence of ingredients they want, the absence of ingredients they want to avoid and the food’s production method (sustainable, non-GMO, etc.)b. One of the elements consumers are increasingly checking on food labels is sugar content. This may be linked to fact that health organizations globally are sending warning messages on the increasing risk of health concerns such as obesity and diabetes, which are often associated with high sugar consumption. In the United States alone, the obesity rate is expected to reach 46% by 2030, compared to <14% in the 1970sc. In response, governments all over the world are imposing measures—so-called “sugar-taxes” or regulations—aimed at discouraging and offsetting the growing concern around obesity. To date, over 40 countries worldwide have implemented a sugar tax or similar sugar-limiting measuresd. All of this has pushed food producers to search for alternative ways to sweeten their products, and, accordingly, over the past 10 years, we’ve seen increasing numbers of labels claiming “reduced sugar,” “no sugar” or “no added sugar.” This has become a new reality, making sugar reduction no longer a trend but the new normal.