August 29, 2013

Food brands start limiting sugar as consumers grow more wary

Posted by: in North America

Attitudes about added sweeteners have continued to evolve since The New York Times Magazine published a cover story titled “Is Sugar Toxic?” in April 2011. While a judge recently rejected Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed ban on the sale of extra-large sugary sodas in New York City, the headlines likely helped boost a rising sense of caution among consumers when it comes to sugar. A recent USA Today/NPD Group study shows American children already eat far fewer sweets than they did 15 years ago.

Food marketers are taking note. Last year, PepsiCo launched low-calorie cola Pepsi Next, which has 60 percent less sugar than regular Pepsi; in late July, Coca-Cola introduced a slimmer can in the U.K., reducing sugar per serving size. Sugar manufacturer Domino Foods now offers a product that combines sugar and the sweetener stevia. Tic Gums is developing a low-fat salad dressing that doesn’t rely on added sugar, among other products.

Meanwhile, a counter-argument to the junk-food naysayers argues that demonizing processed food causes more harm than good, as a recent article in The Atlantic puts it, noting that quick-serve restaurants and packaged-food purveyors have more power to change consumers’ sugar addiction than niche brands. At least one iconic brand is embracing the counter-trend: Hostess, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in early 2012 and has since reorganized, recently re-launched its Twinkies snack cakes.

Image credit: Moyan Brenn

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