Plant extracts for low sugar foods

RESEARCH PROJECT »PERFECT«

Sugar-reduced foods sweetened with plant extracts
© AZTI

Excessive sugar consumption harms health

Excessive sugar is one of the chief causes of disease in modern society, such as the prevalence of diabetes that afflicts 9% of the global population. There are various reasons why people consume too much sugar:

  1. Consumers become used to the sensory profiles of high sugar foods and so prefer to eat such products.
  2. Consumers are increasingly consuming ready-made meals that are unknowingly high in sugar.
  3. Food manufacturers have no favorable alternatives to sugar with respect to its cost and the product characteristics, for example the filler properties, shelf-life, and Maillard reaction during processing.

Development of low sugar foods with enhanced consumer acceptance

The objective of the PERFECT project is to develop low sugar foods such as extruded cereals, snack bars, and baked products (cakes and biscuits) that have high consumer acceptance. Extracts recovered from plant fibers, whose technofunctional and nutritive properties are favorable for the texture and sensory properties of the products, will used as sugar substitutes. Compared to conventional products, the sugar content of the new foods being developed will be reduced by at least 30%. The development work is also focusing on the following aspects:

  • Clean labeling
  • Calorie reduction
  • Low glycemic index
  • High dietary fiber content

In order to gain the confidence and acceptance of consumers, key priorities are clean labeling and high sensory quality. This will be achieved using innovative process technologies which, amongst other things, expolit the multisensory interactions of different sweet flavors for taste optimization. Economic factors will also play a key role in the development work. The new low sugar products should be competitive with conventional products from a cost point of view.

In order to verify consumer acceptance of the new products, the project work will include consumer surveys.