Influence of changing patterns of sucrose consumption on industrial users : response by manufacturers of soft drinks, biscuits, cereals, cakes confectionery, ice-cream, jams, canned products and other sugar-containing foods to the U.K. dietary guidelines that relate to sucrose consumption
Sugar is intrinsically linked with the modern food system. Large sections of the U. K. food industry are dependent on its use and functional qualities. Supplies of sucrose entering the food chain have declined 25% between the 1950's and 1980's and currently stand around 37 kg/person/year. Furthermore, U. K. dietary guidelines over the past 14 years have consistently suggested caution over how much sugar is eaten, especially in manufactured foods. Dietary guidelines such as the NACNE report (1983) recommend average sugar consumption should be no more than 20 kg/person/year. Currently, two-thirds of sugar supplies are bought for use in food and drink manufacture. Continued pressures on sugar consumption and negative consumer attitudes to sugar may be reflected in lost sales of sugar-containing foods. The available information on U. K. sugar consumption is critically assessed. Although the main sources of sugar supply are identified, individual sugar consumption is shown to vary by considerable amounts. The place of sucrose is examined in relation to other sweeteners and why and where sugars and sweeteners are used in food systems. The promotion of "no added sugar" and "sugar free" products is examined since the publication of the NACNE report to the end of 1987. To further test the impact of changing patterns of sugar consumption on food and drink manufacturers a national survey of manufacturers who use sugar was carried out in early 1988. This was an attitudinal postal questionnaire and responses to the issue of sugar, diet and health were analysed. Respondents bought an estimated 650,000 tonnes of sugar in 1986, around 45% of the total industrial market. While the survey aggregate were fully supportive of sucrose, respondents reported that the majority of consumers were worried about sugar being bad for health and were actively cutting down on individual intakes. There were significant differences to the issue of sugar, diet and health dependent on company size, whether a company manufactured for a retailer's own label and if products had already been marketed at a "healthy eating" segment. However, in general, while manufacturers considered consumer attitudes to sugar to be important they had to be put in the context of other factors. So far the impact of changing patterns of sugar consumption is not reflected in the total average industrial purchases of sugar, although substantial "sugar-free" and "sugar-reduced" product niches have been established.