Sensibly sweet: Kerry’s simulator finds consumer-preferred balance between sweetening agent type, protein and calories

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11 Oct 2018 --- Kerry, the Taste and Nutrition Company, has released an interactive consumer preference simulator to supplement their latest white paper on sweetening agents, “Sensibly Sweet.” The proprietary preference simulator utilizes US consumer research data to help industry professionals understand the consumer-preferred combination of three nutritional details – the type of sweetening agent, calorie count and protein count – across six product categories.

Kerry measured consumer perceptions of 17 sweetening agents to understand consumers’ preference surrounding sweetening agents across six product categories – sports drinks, carbonated soft drinks, ice cream, flavored alcoholic malt beverages, granola bars, and cookies. In their research, Kerry also investigated consumer purchase decision drivers when presented with a packaged product, examining which combination of sweetening agent type, calorie count and protein content were most preferred on an ingredient deck and nutritional panel.

With the simulator, users can choose a product category and adjust the sweetening agent type, calorie count and protein level for up to three product combinations, determining the most consumer-preferred combination in their results for a consumer-led approach to developing.

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Kerry measured consumer preference surrounding sweetening agents 
across 6 product categories – sports drinks, carbonated soft drinks,
ice cream, flavored alcoholic malt beverages, granola bars, and cookies.

Lauren Piek, Digital Marketing Specialist at Kerry, tells FoodIngredientsFirst: “As for initial results, since this tool is a simulator, the purpose is to discover consumer-preferred combinations of sweetening agents, calorie count and protein content. The next step is for users to go over the results with a member of our R&D team, and see how consumer-preferred ingredients can be applied to real-life formulations.”

“The consumer preference simulator is a simplified and easy-to-use tool that estimates consumer preference of varying levels of calories, proteins, and type of sweetening agent in six different product types,” explains Soumya Nair, Director of Marketing Insights. 

“The simulator particularly helps formulators, developers and business development professionals to understand which combinations are the most consumer-preferred for informed prototyping or reformulating. We recommend using the tool through all phases of the product development cycle, to stay in touch with the end user preference. Staying ahead of evolving consumer preferences can lead to better innovation and development solutions that meet the demands of consumers across a variety of applications.”

To accomplish this, Kerry offers TasteSense, which addresses the challenges in sweetness, mouthfeel and masking through sensory-validated natural flavor solutions that allow you to maintain the taste consumers love while delivering products to meet their nutritional expectations.

The study included American consumers across gender, age groups, and ethnicities, uncovering specific product categories that were perceived to have high amounts of sugar, the amount of sugar that consumers expect across particular product categories, and consumer taste preferences for reduced-sugar products. 

The research focuses on how consumer perceptions can inform the manufacturing, retail, and foodservice industries to understand the future of food and beverages.

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