Sugar: the supervillian as you’ve never seen it before
As consumers have tried to thwart white sugar and high fructose corn syrup over the past few years, many have turned to less-processed sugars from natural sources like coconut sugar, agave and maple syrup, to name a few. While many of these sweeteners claim health benefits (such as maple syrup’s trace mineral content), the latest scientific research suggests that any benefits are outweighed by sugar’s definitive role in obesity, heart disease and other highly prevalent chronic conditions.
As a result, the latest FDA regulations seek to spotlight sugar consumption by expanding sugar content reporting on the Nutritional Facts Panel and codifying a recommended daily value limit on added sugars – grouping the refined villains of the past with the newer less-processed darlings. In practice, this separates naturally occurring sugar in whole foods like fruit and dairy from sugars with any degree of processing – likely casting a darker shadow on the latter.
NEXT‘s research suggests consumers welcome these changes. More than three-fourths of consumers reported taking specific measures to modify and reduce sugar and sweetener consumption before the regulations took effect, and the number will likely increase with the increased transparency and dietary guidelines on Nutrition Facts Panels. Wouldn’t that be sweet?
These requirements went into effect for large manufacturers (>$10M in annual sales) at the beginning of this year. Expect this sugary spotlight to intensify in 2021 when the labeling requirements extend to small manufacturers – many of whom staked their brand identities on better-for-you claims around less-refined sugars.