How we taste sweetness

lifestyle taste sweetness

As a global society we are increasingly concerned about our health and wellbeing - arguably the greatest driver in the drinks industry. It touches every beverage category in one way or another, and from vitamin-infused sparkling water to ginger lemonade, health-conscious consumers are drawn to products that support their lifestyle.

Consumers increasingly want reassurance that sweetness is derived from natural ingredients as far as possible. The ‘no added sugar’ positioning is valued and increasingly embraced by manufacturers as one of the most prominent on-pack claims across beverage categories.

Legislative changes being introduced all over the world are forcing beverage manufacturers to reduce sugar and calorie levels and reformulate recipes. Around 50 countries globally have implemented taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages and demand for healthier beverages shows no signs of letting up.

To address the demand, beverage manufacturers may look to simply replace sugar with high intensity sweeteners. The challenge is that although these ingredients are sweet, they don’t taste the same as real sugar.

Sugar is not just the taste of sweetness – it also has an overall flavour.

What is the difference between taste and flavour?

It is commonly known that we have a small set of five sensations our tongue can detect: salty, sour, bitter, sweet and unami, with increasing evidence we can also detect fat. We have a number of receptors on our taste buds which allow us to detect these sensations. Interestingly we only have two receptors for sweet, versus 25 for bitter sensations.

Flavour is a combination of taste (sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami) and aroma – what we smell. The majority of flavour actually comes from aroma. Try pinching your nose before putting a flavoured sweet in your mouth; with your nose pinched it just tastes sweet, but when you release your nose, you’ll experience a rush of flavour – that’s the role that aroma plays in flavour.

Because of this overlap between smell and taste, any aromas which we associate with sweetness prompt a physiological response in our brains to make flavours taste sweeter.

Your partner in sugar reduction

We know a lot about this as we are proud to be trailblazers in sugar reduction, first developing our range of solutions nearly 20 years ago. We understand that for a consumer to properly taste sweetness, the flavour of sugar still needs to be present.

We have developed a range of natural sugar extracts and flavours which contain no sucrose. They can be used on their own or in conjunction with natural or synthetic high intensity sweeteners to provide products which can keep a sweet-tooth sated and satisfy health-conscious consumers with the experience of a great tasting beverage.

Talk to us today about reducing sugar levels in your formulations

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