Quantifying sugar’s impact: Kerry’s technical analysis details environmental benefits of Tastesense Sweet
22 Feb 2021 --- Alongside sugar reduction being high on the agenda for many global policymakers, there is also an increased focus on its environmental impact. According to Kerry, the production of sugar exacts a large environmental toll in terms of water usage and carbon emissions, and using Tastesense Sweet at the recommended dosage can help manufacturers reduce sugar usage by 30 percent. This helps to maintain a natural flavoring declaration while delivering “significant and valuable results” in sustainability.
Kerry has revealed its “Innovative Taste for a Better Life and Planet,” a technical report that uses life cycle assessment (LCA) to quantify the environmental and nutritional benefits of Kerry’s Tastesense Sweet when it enables a reduction in the sugar content of a range of foods and beverages.
From a sustainability point of view, the benefits from reducing the use of sugar are notable – a 30 percent reduction in both water usage and calories and a 20 percent carbon emissions reduction.
Bigger impacts on the planet
“Overall, consumers want to better understand the impact their consumer habits have on the planet. Nevertheless, this is quite challenging to get access to those data. I believe that many of the foods we consume are under scrutiny to understand if they have an impact or not and how much is the impact. So the visibility of the environmental impact of ingredients go beyond sugar and is probably just starting,” Coralie Garcia Perrin, global strategic marketing director for sweet and dairy taste, tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
“Our overall objective is therefore to deliver products for sugar reduction that are good for consumers and better for the planet. In the future we want to expand our research to other part of our portfolio while monitoring our sugar portfolio to improve its organoleptic and environmental performances.”
“Sugar reduction is a key focus of government policymakers and F&B producers, not to mention consumers seeking to improve their general health and better prepare themselves to take on COVID-19,” says Otis Curtis, global portfolio director for Tastesense at Kerry.
Kerry’s LCA report also analyzes the example of a potential sugar reduction in a cola beverage in the EU.
The analysis found that if Tastesense Sweet is applied to reduce the sugar content of all of these products by 30 percent, that the savings and benefits in Europe alone would be “enormous.”
In this one product analysis, it would be equivalent to eliminating 68 billion sugar cubes, reduce calories intake equivalent to 1.8 trillion hours of cycling (calorie-burning), taking 29,800 cars off the road for a full year (carbon emissions), and reducing water usage by 11 million peoples’ annual showers.
“What this life cycle assessment and analysis show is that, aside from the significant health challenges posed by excessive sugar consumption, the production of sugar exacts a large environmental toll in terms of water usage and carbon emissions. Therefore, reducing the consumption of sugar has impressive health and environmental benefits,” continues Curtis.
“The prime challenge in lowering sugar content in foods and beverages is finding a means by which to maintain the significant taste, texture and mouthfeel properties uniquely provided by sugar.”
Delivering sweetness and taste
Kerry’s Tastesense Sweet enables sugar reduction of up to 30 percent and maintains a natural flavoring declaration while delivering excellent sweetness properties, appealing mouthfeel and a clean lingering effect with no off-notes.
“Tastesense Sweet delivers a superior organoleptic experience by bringing a clean sweetness without any off-notes. Our sweet solutions can also improve the overall mouthfeel of the products to deliver a better consumer experience. This technology could also provide other benefits in beverages, such as better mouthfeel and increased juiciness,” notes Garcia Perrin.
It can help make a range of tasty foods and beverages healthier for people and better for the planet, adds Curtis.
Most people know that excess sugar negatively impacts personal and public health. However, many are unaware that sugar processing also comes with a negative environmental impact.
Sugarcane accounts for nearly 80 percent of global sugar production, with over 100 countries producing the product from either cane or beets. More than 170 million metric tons are manufactured and consumed annually, with significant effects on the planet from the processes involved in growing, harvesting, refining and distribution.
Growing importance in sustainability
The Tastesense LCA found that it takes 1,110 liters of water to produce one kilogram of cane sugar (and 640 liters in the case of beet sugar). From a climate change perspective, a kilogram of refined cane sugar leads to emissions of 0.42 kg of CO2e, while sugar from beets emits twice as much (0.85 kilograms of CO2e).
There has been a significant jump in the public’s expectations around sustainable product manufacture: Innova Market Insights found in 2019 that 89 percent of consumers now expect companies to invest in sustainability, up more than one-third (from 65 percent) since 2018.
Products branded as “sustainable” over the last five years have had 5.6 times faster annual growth than traditional products.
Sugar reduction not only makes good sense for health, but it is also healthier for the environment and brand differentiation.
Aggressive sugar reduction, in short, is a valuable product development strategy for food and beverage companies worldwide.
The “Innovative Taste for a Better Life and Planet” LCA technical report can be downloaded here.
By Elizabeth Green
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