2016 Sweetener Systems Conference

Originally Published: August 11, 2016
Last Updated: February 4, 2021

There has been increased focus on ingredients that sweeten products by the healthcare community, government regulators, consumers and the food industry. Global Food Forums held its first event on this topic, the 2016 Sweetener Systems Conference, on November 2, 2016 in the Chicago area.

The event provided updates on consumer attitudes, sugar reduction formulations, emerging technologies, nutritional aspects, sensory, regulatory and analytical issues.

Additionally, a Sweetener Sampling Station allowed attendees to sample the ingredients formulation-useful ingredients as well as “novelty ingredients” that suppress sweetness entirely to ones that turn sour food sweet are planned. Examples include allulose, advantame, sweet enhancing and/or bitter-blocking flavors, sugar cane distillate, trehalose, and for a change of pace, miracle fruit and sweetness-suppressing lactisol.



  • Understanding Consumer Reaction to Sweetened New Products

Speaker: Lynn Dornblaser, Director, Innovation & Insight, Mintel

What consumers say about sweeteners they use and the sweeteners in the products they purchase may be a bit different than what you may think. Depending on the category, less than half of US consumers say they pay attention to the type of sweetener used. This presentation will take a look at what consumers have to say about sweeteners, what they think about specific products with various sweeteners, and look at some of the key product launches. The intent will be to provide insight into what is working with consumers, what isn’t, and why.

  • Insights into Challenges of Labeling “Added Sugar” 

Speaker: David Ellingson, MSc, Senior Research Chemist and Project Manager, Covance

July 26, 2018, the date that most food manufacturers will have to itemize “added sugars” on their packaged foods’ Nutrition Facts panels. While FDA’s regulation defines added sugars as those added during the processing of foods or that are packaged as such, numerous questions arise in its implementation. What ingredients and foods are considered an “added sugar?” And, since no analytical method distinguishes between naturally occurring and added sugars in food products, what does the regulation require and what role can analytical chemistry play? This presentation delves into the challenges of implementing the impending regulation and outlines steps and considerations for compliance.

  • Panel: Sweeteners and Nutrition: New Developments & Reality ChecksTwo globally renown speakers will discuss issues and current nutritional research behind caloric and low- /non-caloric sweeteners. The session will conclude with a 15 minute Q&A period.

Panelist: G. Harvey Anderson, Ph.D., Professor of Nutritional Sciences and Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto

In the last 45 years, the rate of obesity has risen along with an increased availability of added sugars in foods. Obesity has been blamed on sugars and sugar-sweetened beverages and more recently on high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as a caloric sweetener in beverages. However, many factors such as socioeconomics, genetics, and lifestyle, including overall diet, play crucial roles in overall health. Research does not support singling out HFCS nor caloric sweeteners as the villains in the obesity epidemic.

Panelist: Richard D. Mattes, MPH, PhD, RD, Distinguished Professor of Nutrition Science at Purdue University, Affiliated Scientist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center

Low calorie sweeteners (LCS) have been used to moderate sugar and energy consumption for over 130 years. Their safety and efficacy for weight management have been challenged over much of this time. Present concerns stem from advances in science that reveal LCS may be metabolically active in the gastrointestinal tract, their use may alter responses in brain reward centers and they may influence the gut microbiota. Some argue that through these mechanisms they pose a health threat and may not only be ineffective, but actually counter-productive for weight management. However, a critical review of the evidence supports their safety and efficacy when used in moderation as a substitute for energy-yielding sweeteners.

  • How High-potency Sweeteners Work and What to Do about It

Speaker: John C. Fry, Ph.D., Director, Connect Consulting

High potency sweeteners (HPS) are key alternatives to sugar, but have unique sensory properties that can make their use difficult. This presentation looks at how we perceive sweetness, how HPS behave, and the consequences for those formulating reduced sugar products. It gives practical insights to address the limitations of popular sweeteners such as stevia, sucralose, acesulfame K and others, with the goal of creating successful foods, beverages and nutritional products.

  • Simply Sweet: Updates on How to Make Foods and Beverages Sweeter with Sight, Smell, Sound and Touch

Speaker: Alex Woo, Ph.D., CEO and Founder, W2O Food Innovation

Recent advances in understanding how humans use a multisensory approach in perceiving tastes points to new ways to enhance the perception of sweetness in foods. A look at current and emerging research on how smell, touch, sight and sound impact sweetness will be presented. Attendees will leave more knowledgeable about sensory integration and what it may mean for new ways to formulate foods and beverages, as well as practical insights in how to create sensory pleasing reduced sugar foods.

  • The Science Behind Sugar Reduction: Ingredient Functionality Beyond Taste

Speaker: Kathy Groves, Professor & Senior Consultant, Head of Science & Microscopy, Leatherhead Food Research

Producing healthier foods has never been higher on the public health/nutritional agenda; and the need for the food industry to reduce sugar in products is currently the most topical. However, the functionality of sugar extends far beyond taste and finding ingredients to replace it is a complex task. In this presentation, Professor Kathy Groves demonstrates how food microstructure and rheological techniques can provide a new perspective into ingredient functionality, opening the way to a more science-based approach to sugar reduction.

  • Emerging Research in Aromas & Sweetness Enhancement

Speaker: Thomas Colquhoun, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Plant Biotechnology, University of Florida

The phenomenon of volatile-enhanced-sweetness is far more common than suspected and makes a substantial contribution to the sweetness of some fruits (e.g., fruit sweetness can double with appropriate volatiles). Volatile-enhanced-sweetness has been demonstrated by cataloging the chemical contents of many different fruits in tandem with human taste panels. Then validated using a subset of ‘sweet-enhancing’ volatiles in a simple sweet solution. The rules that govern this phenomena are not clear, but we have some ideas.