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CHICAGO — Consumers’ avoidance of sugar has triggered double-digit growth in the distribution of sugar-free, unsweetened and reduced sugar products to restaurants and foodservice outlets over the last year, according to newly released research from The NPD Group.
Sugar now ranks as the top item consumers try to avoid in their diets. Additionally, sugar is now tied with calories as the foremost item that adults check on nutrition labels (42 percent), followed by sodium (37 percent) and fat (34 percent).
Distributors are following suit by increasing shipment of sugar substitutes to restaurants and foodservice outlets. Case shipments of bulk sugar substitutes to foodservice outlets increased by 22 percent in the year ending August 2015, compared to the year-ago period, NPD’s SupplyTrack showed.
Shipments of Stevia increased by 11 percent, more than any other type of sugar substitute.
“Consumer concern about sugar in their foods and beverages is an example of how eating patterns can shift,” said Annie Roberts, vice president of NPD’s SupplyTrack. “It might seem like consumption patterns don’t change much from one year to the next, but there is movement and it’s key that foodservice distributors, manufacturers and operators be prepared to address these shifts.”
Although all adult age groups express trying to avoid sugar in their diets, concern is highest among adults 55 and older. This group also consumes the most sugar-free, unsweetened and reduced sugar products among all adult age groups.
Young children, under the age of 6, consume the most sugar substitutes among all age groups.