2020 Sweetener Systems Conference

Originally Published: September 11, 2020
Last Updated: February 4, 2021

Although the in-person 2020 Sweetener Systems Conference was cancelled due to Covid-19, Global Food Forums provided registered attendees access to video recordings of speaker presentations. Most PowerPoint presentations as well as the 2020 Sweetener Systems Post-Conference Magazine (to be published fall of 2020) will be publicly available.



  • Retooling for the New Sweetener Influencers

Speaker: A. Elizabeth Sloan, Ph.D., President, Sloan Trends, Inc.

Even as sweet ingredients and product offerings proliferate, so do the number of factors influencing consumer opinions and the choices they make. This presentation will explore consumer research, health conditions data and trends in dietary, food consumption and lifestyle patterns to better understand consumer choices. Updated research from TrendSense®, a trend tracking service that analyzes consumer and medical/nutritional media coverage, will help attendees better understand consumer motivations. These insights will assist in the identification of key elements and synergies in a product’s design that can lead to improved marketplace success for new or reformulated products.

  • From Amazake to Acid Blockers: Culinary Strategies for Enhancing Sweetness

Speaker: Allison Rittman, C.R.C., Culinary Culture

Sweeteners such as sugar, stevia, monk fruit and honey are “go to” natural ingredient tools for formulated foods and beverages. However, by expanding one’s horizon to look to strategies and on-trend food components used in fine dining, creative and flavorful new options can be found. This presentation investigates potential emerging sweeteners not yet utilized in mainstream food products. Supported by a food science background, it will delve into sophisticated ways in which complimentary food components can enhance sweetness and even functionality for a superior sensory experience. Find new approaches to sweeten foods for now and into the future.

  • Genetics, Sweet Preference, and Short Sleep: Important Players in Food Choice?

Speaker: Robin M. Tucker, Ph.D., RD, FAND, Assistant Professor, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Michigan State University

With the increased focus on sugars and sweeteners, sophisticated research has investigated unsuspected factors impacting sweetness perception, food preferences and health. For example, about one-third of adults in developed countries report failing to meet recommended sleep guidelines. A growing body of research links insufficient sleep to increased risk of obesity. How and why sleep increases this risk is a topic of intense research. This presentation highlights several potential mechanisms linking sleep and overeating, including changes in sweet taste preferences for both nutritive and non-nutritive sweeteners with subsequent increased susceptibility to food cravings. Results will also be presented on research exploring how sweet liking differs among groups of individuals and how sweet liking predicts consumption of sweet foods and beverages.

  • Recent Research on Clean Label Sweetness Modulators: Theory & Practicalities

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

The Gold Standard in sugar reduction is a sweetener system that performs identically to sucrose. Even as the number of alternative sweeteners increases, taste remains a key challenge. Based on firsthand research, this presentation will provide advice on use of clean label modulators with a focus on stevia- and monk fruit-derived high potency sweeteners as well as certain sugars. Results presented will generally be for beverage-type platforms. The presentation will also touch on reported findings by others regarding potential effectiveness of these modulators with erythritol, allulose and artificial high potency sweeteners like sucralose.

  • Breakthrough Technology Dramatically Improves Sweetener Tastes

Speaker: Grant E. DuBois, Ph.D., Consultant, Sweetness Technologies, LLC

Based on the physiological mechanisms of taste perception, a recent patent application describes a clean-label formulation technology that dramatically improves the tastes of sweeteners, non-caloric and caloric alike.


  • Sugar in Dairy Foods: Its Role, Replacement & Impact on Sensory Attributes

Speaker: MaryAnne Drake, Ph.D., Sensory Analysis and Flavor Chemistry, William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor, North Carolina State University

Sugar influences viscosity and other texture properties, color, taste and flavor of sweetened dairy products. While natural, label-friendly high-potency sweeteners have received much attention, the taste of synthetic alternatives is still often preferred by consumers. The perception of sweetness is not only influenced by sweetener ingredients, but by the properties of food matrices such as level of fat and texture. Statistical results from consumer tests, qualitative market research and preference mapping will be presented. Additionally, the role of sugar and alternative sweeteners in sugar reduced ice cream and flavored milk among other beverages will be discussed. New research on yogurts and protein bars will be provided.

  • New Kids on the Block:  From Allulose to Tagatose, Properties & Performance in Sugar Replacement

Speaker: Melanie Goulson, MSc, General Manager, Merlin Development

Developers and consumers alike have long awaited an ingredient solution that can deliver all of the sweetness and functionality of sucrose without the calories or grams of added sugar.  High potency sweeteners can effectively replace the sweetness of sugar, but often fall short in replacing other properties.  There’s growing interest in a new group of low-calorie bulk sweeteners that can contribute more of the desired performance characteristics to reduced sugar products.  This presentation will focus on the properties of tagatose, allulose, and erythritol, comparing their taste, functionality, and nutritional properties to sucrose in food and beverage applications.

  • Update on Added Sugar Labeling: News, Nuances and Needs

Speaker: Lauren Swann,  MS, RD, LDN, CEO, President, Concept Nutrition, Inc.

The food industry has a reprieve from the January 1, 2020 date to implement the new Nutrition Facts labeling. FDA granted the extension by saying it would not take enforcement action for six months. The delay, requested by the food industry, indicates manufacturers are struggling with implementation issues. Requirements surrounding added sugar labeling have proved more complex than first thought. This presentation looks at finalized FDA rulings on what foods and ingredients do and do not need to be included, what subtle factors need be considered and where confusion may still exist. Lastly, a quick look will be taken at the variety of terms for sugars and certain other affected ingredients with an eye toward roles they may play in communicating to consumers.

  • Solving the Puzzle: Sugar Reduction Strategies

Speaker: Catalin Moraru, Ph.D., Technical Manager, Product Development, The National Food Lab, Inc.

As cutting down on sugar went from trend to mainstream, food formulators have focused on identifying the best approaches to provide optimal sweetness intensity and quality, while minimizing sugar and calorie intake and keeping labels clean and user-friendly. Advances in ingredient technologies and updated regulatory requirements increase the complexity of developing the sweetening component of any given food or beverage. This presentation will discuss strategies for sugar reduction in selected food and beverage applications, considering consumer and market trend data, ingredient properties and performance, and specific application criteria and requirements.