The drive towards healthier choices in food and beverages has become so strong that it is even relevant to treating, Innova Market Insights says. Taste quality is essential to confectionery, sweet bakery, ice cream and desserts, which means formulating ‘better for you’ sweet treats can be challenging.
Sugar is inherent to the concept of treating and is therefore a particularly important focus for these products. The company’s research shows 91% of consumers are at least a little influenced by sugar reduction claims. There have been winners and losers in reduced sugar treats, Innova points out, and there is no guaranteed route to success. Strategies vary and include complete removal of sugar, blending of sugar with sweeteners and advances in sugar science.
Sugar reduction has been particularly successful in ice cream, with an emphasis on bolder on-pack calorie counts. “Several brands, such as Halo Top, have established themselves firmly on a low sugar platform,” says Lu Ann Williams, Global Insights Director at Innova Market Insights. “Their success owes much to pricing that is similar to premium mainstream products and a strong brand ethos centred on health.”
Beyond sugar, Innova says, protein is the other macronutrient attracting most attention in ‘better for you’ sweet treats, adding health value to some confectionery and sweet bakery products. Even some sports nutrition brands are exploring opportunities in high protein biscuits and chocolate products.
Plant-based ingredients are playing a bigger role ‘better for you’ sweet treat product development, the research firm says. In sweetening, for example, stevia, erythritol and monk fruit are reportedly all gaining ground. In protein enrichment, pea protein is an increasingly popular ingredient choice, with rice protein an emerging niche.