Flavor & Nutrition | Corporate

Symrise decodes three preferences on sweet taste perception

— Three taste routes to reduce the sugar level while also meeting consumer taste preferences

— Diverse consumer preferences on the ideal level of sweetness

— Taste solutions portfolio evolved to support food & drink manufacturers

One of the fastest growing demands relates to better-for-you food and drink products with a natural and balanced level of sweetness. Symrise has done a deep dive into consumption behaviors and focused on revealing the diversity of sensorial preferences. It has conducted studies to guide the development of new taste solutions that meet the latest consumer taste preferences. The resulting solutions balance the taste of a reduced sugar level from cookies to cocktails while keeping a maximum level of indulgence in different ways, for different consumers.

Established and new labelling systems like the UK’s traffic light system or the Nutriscore are helping consumers to navigate their purchase. “The desire for a healthy weight and more natural sweetness in products has led to an increasing number of people looking for sugar-reduced products. These should taste good and, ideally, contain fewer calories,” says Dr. Dariah Lutsch, Sensory & Consumer Insights Research Manager of the Flavor Division at Symrise. “A purchase simulation shows that 75 percent of consumers would choose reduced-sugar versions within nearly all product categories”, adds Lutsch.
 
This refers to a study on sweet taste perception in Europe, Africa and the Middle East Symrise has recently carried out. It has found that multiple routes exist to reduce the sugar level while at the same time meeting taste preferences.

Route #1 – tastes as sweet as the full sugar version and 33 % of respondents prefer it.
Route #2 – tastes similar and less sweet and 20 percent of consumers prefer this route.
Route #3 – The third group of about 22 % behaves more adventurous. They are looking for a new unique flavor composition and accept a difference in taste compared to the full-sugar version.

Ideal sweetness for soft drinks

With a further study on the ‘Ideal Level of Sweetness’ in 2019 for Cola CSD (carbonated soft drinks) in Germany, Symrise wants to determine the optimal sweetness level with different sugar contents from 106 g/l to 75 g/l sugar. The study re-confirmed the findings and also revealed that consumers perceive a sample with 75 g/l as lacking in sweetness. Knowing that sugar reduction in beverages impacts the overall taste profile and sweet taste dynamics from mouthfeel, Symrise conducted a second study and tried to increase the consumer liking of sugar-reduced products by applying Symrise taste balancing solutions with Symlife®. The team succeeded in dramatically increasing the overall liking of sugar reduced cola versions 85g/l and 75g/l by adding the taste solution of Symrise.

Regardless, which route consumers prefer and which target consumer food manufacturers would like to reach, Symrise supports their customers in reducing calories in a range of beverage products – from ice tea to CSDs – and offers the final taste profile consumers love across all three scenarios.

Ideal match for sweet goods

Especially in sweet baked goods, consumers desire a guilt-free and highly indulgent experience. Symrise experts for sweets and baked goods have extended the portfolio with a new natural Symlife® taste solution ‘Sweet Optimizer Baking MFC” to meet that demand. The multi-functional compound uses flavor and bulk ingredients and particularly focusses on sweet baked goods to meet the multiple challenges of sugar reduction. The compound allows manufacturers to reduce up to 50 % sugar and it works like a 1:1 replacement e. g. in biscuits while keeping the preferred taste, appeal and texture.

“At the same time, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of their choices in the confectionary segment, says Lisa Wulf, Marketing Manager Category Confectionary. The reduction of sugar in confectionery products affects the entire level of richness and mouthfeel like in a chocolate bar. Our confectionery customers ask us to support this demand of healthier products with a highest level of superior experience and pleasure. That’s why we have developed Symlife® solutions, to overcome the compromises on the indulgence level, Wulf explains.

The dairy health trend

The Symrise studies have also revealed that especially with dairy products consumers want to reduce their sugar intake and feel healthier. They are looking for less sweet and also rich taste experiences. As a result, the ‘no added sugar’ claim trend in dairy has been growing. To support manufacturers in this field, Symrise has increased its know-how to pair flavors with a no added sugar matrix, delivering a delicious sensory experience. In this, the depth of the flavor forms a no-compromising element whereas consumers allow the sweetness level in some cases to taste different, new and exciting. In that regard, Symrise benefits from global chefs inspirations to reformulate products to taste great with natural taste solutions.

For food manufacturers that want to meet the target of a 1:1 replacement Symlife® offers taste balancing solutions for a 25 % or even 50 % sugar reduction with no compromise on the experience level. Thanks to its ecosystem and partners the taste experts can offer a full replacement complemented with additional balancing ingredients.

Taste expertise on all levels

Food and drink manufacturer have started to reformulate their products and have to meet the challenge to maintain the taste experience consumer love. Next to the evolved Symlife® portfolio, Symrise offers regulatory guidance, sensory methods and analytics to ensure that all solutions are meeting latest regulatory standards without any compromise on experiencing indulgence.

A sugar-reduced product can fulfill consumers’ desire for healthy food and drink in many different ways – from 1:1 replacements to completely new taste experiences. Symrise is building on these insights and offers natural taste solutions across for all segments to meet the demand of diverse consumer groups.

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