CONTACT: Phillip Hayes
From the International Sweetener Symposium:NAPA, Calif.—An ever-evolving food marketplace, driven by consumer demand and tastes, is creating new opportunities and challenges for food manufacturers, according to a panel of experts at the 30th International Sweetener Symposium.
“An overwhelming majority of Americans are receptive to positive messages about a healthful diet,” said Marianne Smith Edge, senior VP, nutrition & food safety, the International Food Information Council (IFIC). “But their willingness to believe food and health information is most influenced by their own research, as well as advice from friends and family before a qualified health professional.”
And major food manufacturers are responding. One panelist noted that the phrase “snacking,” for example, is evolving from a perceived negative action into one that is increasingly seen as part of a healthy lifestyle.
“Snacking is evolving,” said Mark McCullough, sourcing manager–sugar, worldwide sourcing, General Mills. “Consumers are snacking more frequently, and looking for snacks that are more flexible and healthy.”
However, panelist Ron Sterk, senior editor, markets for Sosland Publishing Company cautioned, “Consumers will continue to be bombarded by negative messages about caloric sweeteners.”
That came as no surprise to the panel’s moderator Andy Briscoe, president and CEO of the Sugar Association, who cited a June 2013 poll conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of The Sugar Association, finding that despite the fact that sugar consumption has decreased by 35 percent over the last 42 years, 75 percent of respondents said they believe sugar consumption has increased.
“The confusion about food—what to eat and what not to eat—is constantly fueled by extremists who sensationalize each and every new piece of research and distort the facts about sugar for the sake of a story or to hype a new book,” Briscoe said.
For more information about the International Sweetener Symposium, visit www.sugaralliance.org
Symposium audio files can be downloaded at www.ASAradio.org