Food and beverage manufacturers with nutritional contents in their products are capitalising on the growing health trend by clearly labelling their products on the front panel of packaging to attract consumer attention.
Nevertheless, consumers nowadays are becoming more sophisticated and are increasingly wary of the nutritional claims and seek products that can support these claims via scientific evidences or by inserting detailed nutritional contents on the product labels. The proliferation of product claims, if unsupported, can be hijacked effectively via negative statements or feedback from savvy consumers via internet and social media.
However, products with clear health claims indicated on both front panel as well in the ingredient contents, will stand out on retail shelves in urban settings, and consumers are willing to pay a premium for such products. What are the Top 5 Health Claims ? According to the latest report from Euromonitor International, ‘No Sugar’ appears to rank on top of the Top 5 Health Claims globally by industry in 2021.
Soft drink takes the lead where ‘No Sugar’ held a 6% digital share of retail shelves in 2021. Other health claims which made to the Top 5 include ‘High Protein’, ‘Good Source of Vitamins’, ‘High Source of Fibre’ and ‘No Fat’ amongst others (see Chart 1.0)
Sugar has been under close scrutiny both by consumers and governments in the Asia Pacific region due to its close link to a number of health problems. These include diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular diseases which have now become public health issues in many countries. Many governments in the region are taking action by introducing new regulations to control the use of sugar in food and beverage products. One major industry targeted with punitive measures is the soft drink industry. As a result, many soft drink producers are reformulating their beverages with ‘low sugar’ or ‘no sugar’ to avoid the high taxes imposed or a possible ban on their products.
Even in countries where governments are not actively pursuing regulatory actions, consumers have become more health conscious and these have been accelerated by the pandemic.
Euromonitor did a separate research to identify what the consumers perceive as actions to improve on their overall diet. Reducing the consumption of sugar was identified as the 3rd most important way to improve diet apart from ‘drink more water’, and ‘eat more fresh fruits and vegetables’. To many consumers, tackling obesity or addressing weight loss/management for themselves or for their children seem to be one of the major consideration prior to purchasing food and beverage products. (see Chart 2.0)
Nevertheless, introducing products with low or no sugar also has its own set of negative repercussions. To some consumers, they are unable to adjust to the different taste of the products and would prefer to stick to the older versions. One example is Mondelez China launch of Oreo Zero in China which received lukewarm response from consumers due to its slight difference in taste.
Meanwhile, manufacturers that adopt sugar alternatives or replacements in their products must also be mindful of consumers who are seeking sustainability and insist on the use of ‘all natural’ ingredients in their products. Here, industry players should carefully consider suppliers of natural sweeteners like Sweegen in their product formulations.