Natural and sustainable sweets and snacks that contain less sugar or carry a clean label declaration are becoming more and more popular. As a result, it can prove a technological challenge for manufacturers to find solutions that reconcile both health-related and taste aspects.
For these manufacturers, they will receive support from the approximately 30 ingredients specialists represented at ProSweets Cologne, which is running from 28-31 January 2024. With an extensive selection of functional ingredients they set benchmarks in the reformulation process and enable product concepts that excel with their innovative flavours and attractive colours.
Naturalness and health are becoming more decisive for consumers when they are purchasing snacks and sweets. According to FMCG Gurus’ Global Confectionery Trends in 2022, over 80% of consumers worldwide state that sustainability aspects are important when choosing sweets.
The clean label trend which oversees products formulated without additives and with natural ingredients has also long since hit the sweet shelves. As a result, all of the companies of the sweets industry are looking for the corresponding solutions, either by developing new products or through the reformulation of existing products. One of the most exciting questions that will be discussed at ProSweets Cologne is thus how the sweet manufacturers succeed in aligning the colour, texture and taste to satisfy the trends towards a heightened awareness for health.
The trend towards reformulation is being further reinforced by the Nutri-Score, which has been at the disposal of companies in Germany since the end of autumn 2020. One strategy pursued here is the gradual reduction of the sugar content in order to retain the taste profile of a product and the related consumer acceptance.
True to the motto ‘Cocoa first, sugar last’ some of the recipes for reformulated chocolate contain up to 80% more cocoa today to offer a rich flavour while being able to reduce as half as much sugar. ProSweets Cologne will also show attendees how sugar replacements can work as an integral solution in snack bars: With natural honey-based sweetness and combinations between nuts and dried fruits that can be processed as pieces, powder or freeze-dried granules, which add both taste and a crispy crunchiness to snacks.
The gradual reduction of sugar always reaches its limits when the texture or the breakage and biting behaviour suffers as a result. Some manufacturers try to compensate for this above all using low glycaemic carbohydrates and fibres, which are becoming more and more well-known as partial sugar replacements.
In the example of of sugar-reduced fruit gums inulin, a prebiotic fibre obtained from chicory roots, creates a pleasant feeling in the mouth. Short-chain fructooligosaccharides extracted from sugar beet are also mildly sweet, well-soluble and have natural characteristics that have a positive influence on the taste and texture of bakery products or cereals. At the same time they enable fibre enrichment. This improves the nutritional profile and manufacturers can achieve a better rating in nutrition labelling systems such as Nutri-Score.
For clean label confectionery and snack solutions, to achieve the bright colours associated with sweets, it is about retaining the authenticity and naturalness with shades that are reminiscent of seasonal fruits. For the ingredients specialists there is no way around the sustainable cultivation of plant-based raw materials that are rich in colour and the gentle processing thereof. Colouring foodstuffs gained from fruits, vegetables and edible plants are an ideal option for sweets manufacturers in order to unite rich colours and the possibility of a clean label.
The offer ProSweets Cologne encompasses diverse dyes that can be chosen to suit the application. This also applies for white dyes that replace titanium dioxide (E171) that has been banned in the EU since February 2022.
Due to its light refraction, titanium dioxide played an important role in creating a clear white base to create vivid colours. Particularly in the case of products coated in sugar a whitener is frequently needed to create a surface layer between a dark chocolate core and a coloured coating.
The latest innovations here are for instance based on calcium carbonate encapsulated with rice protein, which must however be declared as an additive. Rice starch is considered to be one of the clean label alternatives with a high degree of whiteness. It is suitable for chewing-gum, hard caramels or chocolate drops. Thanks to the small size of the grains it leaves a smooth surface on the coating, without a grey or yellow sheen.
Yellow and red are the most frequently used colours for many applications. Lively blue and green shades are popular too. They drive the innovations of the product developers forward and offer manifold possibilities of creating sweets that stand out from the crowd and excel with their appearance on Instagram and other social media platforms.
As an eye-catcher the right shine is also decisive as to whether an item receives a like online. What would a colourful sugar-coated sweet be without the perfect finish? The latest developments in the section of glazing, separating and sealing agents will be another topic presented at ProSweets. As part of the reformation strategies these too also have to do justice to the consumers’ increased demands in sweets and at the same time still retain their functionality.
In the discussions revolving around sustainability, people are paying more attention to the origin and sustainable procurement of products and their raw materials. The green pressure is growing for manufacturers, as ingredients influence purchasing decisions.
Working in cooperation with Haute Innovation from Berlin, ProSweets Cologne will present sustainable snack innovations from all over the globe on the special “InGREENients” exhibition zone. The focus is primarily on the sustainability aspect and the use of unusual ingredients for small in-between nibbles.
Exhibitors and visitors can engage in direct conversation with these innovators, who will present their products within the collaboration section.
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