Better-For-You Confectionary Trends

Functional Benefits In Our Favorite Sweets

January 1, 2023

The global initiative to promote healthier foods and lifestyles is here, but with an exciting new twist. Emphasis is being placed on turning confectionary products into functional products without sacrificing taste. We expect health food products to taste “healthy”, but when it comes to sweets it’s hard to enjoy a “healthy” tasting candy or pastry. Growing trends in the industry show brands offering healthier alternatives by reducing sugar consumption, upcycling ingredients, exploring sodium chloride alternatives, and fortifying functional ingredients in products.

Global Confectionery Size
Below are the top trends in the better-for-you confectionery category.

Function & Fortification

Consumers are looking for higher nutrition in their everyday products. Companies are bulking up their nutrition profiles to include more fiber and protein. Functional ingredients for immunity, gut health, and mood are also being added to make function claims in confectionery and snack products.

This year the UK implemented restrictions on the promotion of foods considered HFSS (high in fat, salt, and sugar). Products will be graded by a ‘Nutrient Profile Score’ for items like calorie density, sugar content, and sodium levels. They will also be awarded points for protein content, fiber, fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Brands are having to find creative ways to replace and reduce certain ingredients to keep up with the demand for healthier alternatives. The UK is one of the many countries moving towards healthier alternatives.

Reduce, Reuse, Reformulate

Many brands are currently reformulating to reduce sugar, salts, fats, and introduce additional nutrients. This process is particularly sensitive because these changes affect how the product tastes, how it is processed, and how it performs on store shelves.

Sugar Reduction and Replacement

One of the biggest trends in confectionery is the reduction and replacement of sugar. With brands like Dreyer’s Ice Cream introducing a no sugar added ice cream with half the fat, sugar replacements have become the standard in formulations. One sugar substitute that is making a splash is Allulose.

Allulose is comparable to sugar and has a flavor profile like fructose. While allulose can be found in nature, to produce it in large quantities it must be produced by artificial means. One benefit of Allulose is the FDA GRAS status (Generally Recognized as Safe) and its approval in other countries including Japan, Mexico, South Korea, and Singapore. Allulose is not yet approved in Europe and Canada as it is considered a “novel food” and has not been around long enough for approval. Allulose can be a great option for a low-calorie sweetener that doesn’t affect insulin or blood glucose levels.

Upcycled Ingredients

Consumers are well-versed in dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegan options. The latest trend in ingredient claims is the use of upcycled ingredients. Upcycled ingredients take what is typically considered the byproducts or waste from food production to reuse them. These byproducts can consist of the peels and pulps of fruits and vegetables.

USDA FSIS – “As of August 2022, the Upcycled Food Association has received pre-market approval from the USDA FSIS for use of the Upcycled Certified™ Marks to be shown on packaging of FSIS-regulated ingredients and products.”

Some brands have converted these upcycled ingredients into fruit leathers, crackers, bars, and cookies. Upcycled ingredients are a great way to add more nutrition for less. These ingredients are being offered by suppliers and becoming readily available as a sustainable source of key nutrients

Sodium Chloride Alternatives

Reducing sodium chloride can be tricky as it is a delivery vehicle for the overall flavor profile and is even necessary in some baking processes.

Reducing sodium intake by opting for salt substitutes instead of regular salt could lower the risk of early death from any cause by 11%, slash the risk of heart attacks by 11% and reduce the risk of heart disease by 13%. -Heart Journal

Luckily, there are some alternatives making their way to the scene such as potassium chloride, magnesium chloride, and calcium chloride. Using these alternative chlorides can help reduce the sodium content. These alternatives can have bitter and metallic notes, which can be overcome through processing or by using a balanced blend.

Flavor Trends

With the push to use real ingredients like cacao, oats, almonds, and other nuts many confectionery brands are focusing on flavors that taste like the real thing. Brands use flavors to create unique flavor profiles and mimic the decadence of desserts. Some of the top flavor trends in better-for-you confectionery and snacks include:

  • Floral – Coconut, Lavender, and Honeycomb
  • Nutty – Almond, Pistachio, Praline
  • Ornamental Fruits – Pear, Plum, and Apricot
  • Tropical Influence – Guava, Dragonfruit, Lilikoi, and Passionfruit
  • Healthy Indulgence – Cookie Butter, Hazelnut, and Dulce de Leche
  • Sweet & Savory – Smoky, caramelized, or roasted version of favorite flavors

Back to the Drawing Board

To keep up with health trends many brands are going back to the formulation drawing board. Sensapure will help you find the right flavor for your application, assist in developing formulas, and create a lasting impression with your customers.

Contact us today to develop something delicious together!


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