As more consumers seek less sugar in their products, brands are racing to reformulate and innovate to meet this demand without compromising on other attributes such as taste, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

The company’s latest research reveals that American consumer preferences towards sugar and sweeteners have shifted over time. In the US, consumers have not only become more attentive to the sugar and sweeteners used in their food and drinks, but ‘natural’ has also increased its influence.

According to GlobalData’s Q4 2017 consumer survey, 29 percent of Americans find the claim ‘naturally sweetened’ most appealing when choosing food and drinks; an increase of 12 percentage points compared to 2014.

This sentiment aligns with strong preferences for ‘natural’, generally as consumers perceive such products to be intrinsically healthier. Indeed, when asked what ‘healthy’ means to them, the same 2017 survey revealed that 56 percent of Americans consider it to mean ‘natural’, placing it above all other response choices including ‘low fat’ and ‘low sugar’.

Melanie Felgate, Senior Consumer Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “The claims ‘no added sugar’ and ‘contains real sugar’ have become less influential over the last 3 years, highlighting greater awareness among Americans that products making such claims are likely to still be sugary, even if the source is naturally occurring or ‘real’.

“Americans are increasingly rejecting sugar in all forms, and actively seek out natural low-sugar alternatives to satisfy their cravings for a sweet treat or beverage. The challenge for brands is to ensure such products live up to the taste expectations of consumers. This includes, for example, overcoming aftertaste issues often associated with food and drink made with sugar-alternatives such as stevia.”