The road to a sweeter beverage solution is laden with the remains of failed, and ultimately unhealthy artificial options. With everyone trying to avoid sugar like the plague, the search for the perfect sugar substitute is a never-ending quest. The hope is that eventually our disdain for sugar and its caloric implications will create an evolutionary shift of our palates. In the meantime, we are weaning ourselves off from the sweet taste in general. If you’re anything like me, you reserve your sugar intake for an ice-cold glass of Coca-Cola 3-4 times a week, that’s about it. But for others, their sugar intake comes from multiple sources depending on their hankerings.
If you talk to anyone in the United States over the age of 18, the majority of them will tell you how many cups of coffee they drink in a day on average. Others will tell you about how they can’t help themselves and need to have a little Reese’s Peanut-butter Cup or some Starbursts to quench that sugar craving. For those of us that are only guilty of the liquid sugar addiction, products like La Croix and various kombucha are doing what they can to shift the sweetness power to their favor. The pitfall to this alternative is that these products tease the sweet taste of sugar and do not deliver, allowing the customer to fall back into their former sugary beverage fixes. The problem is that in fact, in many cases, these alternatives often taste too sweet. Experts suggest that consumers’ tendency to gravitate towards sweet-tasting products is shifting in the opposite direction, and that’s actually a good thing. Considering that too much sugar in one’s diet is obviously not a good thing; this is one evolutionary transition that should be welcomed.
But there are other additional factors contributing to the shift away from sugar. For example, beginning in 2020, the FDA will require companies to label the amount of sugar each product contains–which will certainly scare away an even larger contingent of anti-sugar consumers. This labelling process will account for the sugar that is found naturally occurring from the ingredients, in addition to what is added by way of concentrates, syrups, honey, etc. You can bet that with these new regulations, consumers will become even more wary of sugar-ridden products and begin to seek out products boasting the least amount of sugar.
Food manufacturers have seen this regulation coming for some time now and have done their best to develop foods that have limited, or zero sugar added. The problem is, as you might have guessed, that finding ways for less sugary products to taste great is a lot easier said than done.
As we move forward, and our taste for sweet products deteriorates at a rapid pace–these sugar substitutes will be less and less necessary. Maybe salty and savory is due for a comeback?