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by Helen Dugdale

Nov 2016

Families are calling for food and drink brands to be more transparent
when it comes to the amount of sugar and sweeteners in their products
says new research. Consumers are trying to do more 'cooking from
scratch' putting them in control of what they eat, as they try to avoid
unnecessary sweeteners. This is a strong message from families asking
brands to help them out with the ingredients they use to sweeten

Manchester-based Humanise the insight and innovation agency has released
the findings of 'Sugar Summit 2016: Another Spoonful', which provides a
window into kitchen cupboards and opinions of 1400 parents from across
the UK on the sticky subject of sugar. The research used quantitative
data, active ethnography, which they specialise in, and videos to
collate behaviour and attitudes.

Christina Page Insight Director at Humanise said: "Over the last 12
months, the awareness of sugar content in products families buy has
increased to 76 per cent, as more families are taking action on what
they consume. The research shows that replacing sugar with sweeteners
isn't first choice for families, they are veering towards preferring
natural sugars and this will only increase going forward."

Highlights of the insight found: three quarters of families actively
look for the sugar content on packaging while out shopping (half now
take notice of sweeteners). 83 per cent use the front of the pack to be
guided by the sugar content. While nearly two thirds say they have
reduced their families sugar consumption over the last 12 months.

Key trends that came out of the research were an increased awareness of
ingredients in products. 50 per cent of families admit to cooking more
meals from scratch, not only does it mean they regulate the amount of
sugar but they realise it can save them money and doesn't mean that much
extra time in preparation. In particular sauces were criticised, as
parents believe they tend to be loaded with sugar. Instead families are
using fresh ingredients like garlic, onions, tinned tomatoes and herbs
to make their own (by their own admission most are not picking tomatoes
from their greenhouse but going for tinned tomatoes is a step in the
right direction). By eating and cooking cleaner, creating more meals
themselves at least a few nights of the week, families feel that they
are taking some control back. This behavioural change was instigated
further by consumers watching the BBC One's Eat For Less Show.

Greater awareness and concern about ingredients has seen a sweetener
backlash start to rise as parents prefer more natural products. 2/3's of
parents said when they see 'no added sugar' they think sweeteners. 46
per cent of families would prefer food and drink products were sweetened
with sugar, rather than sweeteners.. Parents admitted to swapping
cordial and fruit juice for water and are calling for brands to reduce
the amount of sugar in products, rather than replace with sweeteners.

During interviews carried out by Humanise, participants commented:

'I don't think products should have 'no added sugar'. Because it's
usually disguised with sweeteners, which aren't always good for you."

"I avoid low fat options because they tend to include extra sugar or
sweeteners. Not enough is known about the effect sweeteners have on the
human body over time."

"If I'm buying a sugary treat I want sugar! I don't want a half-hearted

"I buy cereal that my child will eat that contains vitamin D, iron and
fibre and the trade off is it contains some sugar."

Sugar Summit 2016 found that 49 per cent of families who took part are
influenced on what to eat and what not to eat to by family and friends.
With the second biggest influencer being online food and drink tips at
35 per cent.

Several clear messages for food and drink brands came from the research:
Lead with the benefits about a product, not what's been taken away. Be
honest and transparent about levels of sugar content. Keep labelling
clear and concise and don't over complicate the messaging. On products
designed for children show age appropriate recommended sugar levels.

In summary, parents think that natural sugar is better than sweeteners,
everything in moderation is the secret to a healthy diet and if they are
allowing their children a treat they would rather the product have
natural sugar in it than sweeteners. Overall they believe providing a
healthy diet for their families is a constant trade off, between
benefits and what their children and families will actually consume and

Manchester-based Humanise work with brands and creative agencies to
bring authenticity relevance and empathy between brands and consumers.
Humanise clients include, Soreen, Hipp, Pepsico, Bauer and Hasbro.

Any brand or agency wanting to access the full Sugar Summit 2016:
Another Spoonful should contact Humanise: or go to
their website to request a copy [2] [2 [2]] [2