Consumers Avoiding Total Sugars, Not Specific Types

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Consumers Avoiding Total Sugars, Not Specific Types


Consumers avoid total sugars more so than any specific type of sweetener, according to a new brand-level consumer attitudes and behavior study from Mintel.

Whether it’s Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Yoplait, Dannon, Nature’s Own or Sara Lee, approximately one quarter of soda, yogurt and bread brand purchasers (between 17 and 26 percent) say they are looking to reduce total sugars in their diet. In contrast, a nominal 1 to 5 percent of consumers purchasing these brands cite avoiding a specific sweetener, such as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

“These findings directly contradict the unfounded buzz around specific sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup,” said Sara Martens, consumer research expert and VP of The MSR Group. “Consumers aren’t responding to product formulation or menu item adjustments based on specific sweetening ingredients, and food and beverage industry decision-makers should consider this before investing in costly modifications.”

The study explored 34 brands across 13 of the highest-volume food and beverage categories. The findings align with previous Mintel research examining consumer attitudes and behaviors around food and beverage ingredients both broadly and at the category level.

“Looking at the series of research Mintel has conducted during the last two years, we see that regardless of how finely you slice the data, consumer concern remains more focused on total sugars than any specific type,” said Martens. “And regardless of what consumers say they are trying to avoid, it doesn’t translate into purchase behavior.”

The survey explored label reading and avoidance among 2,400 primary household grocery shoppers.