Lifecycle assessment of Kerry’s Tastesense Sweet quantifies sugar’s environmental impact

Kerry’s Innovative Taste for a Better Life and Planet lifecycle assessment of its Tastesense Sweet is a technical analysis that details the significant personal health, nutritional and global environmental benefits of sugar reduction while still maintaining sweetness, taste and texture.

Kerry has released Innovative Taste for a Better Life and Planet, a technical report that uses lifecycle assessment (LCA) to quantify the environmental and nutritional benefits of Kerry’s Tastesense Sweet when it enables a reduction in the sugar content of a range of foods and beverages. The LCA found that by using Tastesense Sweet at the recommended dosage, manufacturers will be able to reduce sugar usage by 30%, to maintain a natural flavouring declaration, while delivering “significant and valuable” results. From a sustainability perspective, the notable benefits from reducing the use of sugar include a 30% reduction in both water usage and calories, and a 20% carbon emissions reduction.

The report also analysed the example of a potential sugar reduction in a cola beverage in the European Union. According to Euromonitor, 9.572 billion litres of full-sugar cola are purchased annually throughout the continent. The LCA analysis found that if Tastesense Sweet is applied to reduce the sugar content of all of these products by 30%, that the savings and benefits in Europe alone would be “enormous”. In this one product analysis, it would be equivalent to eliminating 68 billion sugar cubes, reduce calories intake equivalent to 1.8 trillion hours of cycling, taking 29,800 cars off the road for a full year, and reducing water usage by 11 million peoples’ annual showers.

Otis Curtis, global portfolio director, Tastesense, Kerry, commented: “All over the world, sugar reduction is a key focus of government policymakers and food and beverage producers, not to mention consumers seeking to improve their general health and better prepare themselves to take on COVID-19. What this lifecycle assessment and analysis show is that, aside from the significant health challenges posed by excessive sugar consumption, the production of sugar exacts a large environmental toll in terms of water usage and carbon emissions. Therefore, reducing the consumption sugar has impressive health and environmental benefits.

“The prime challenge is lowering sugar content in foods and beverages is finding a means by which to maintain the significant taste, texture and mouthfeel properties provided by sugar. Our Kerry Tastesense Sweet enables sugar reduction of up to 30% and the maintenance of a natural flavouring declaration while delivering sweetness properties, appealing mouthfeel, and a clean lingering effect with no off-notes. It can help make a range of tasty foods and beverages healthier for people and better for the planet.”

Most consumers are aware that excess sugar negatively impacts personal and public health. However, many are unaware that sugar processing also comes with a negative environmental impact. Sugarcane accounts for nearly 80% of global sugar production, with over 100 countries currently producing the product from either cane or beets. More than 170 million tonnes are manufactured and consumed annually, with significant effects on the planet from the processes involved in growing, harvesting, refining and distribution.

The Tastesense LCA found that it takes 1,100 litres of water to produce 1kg of cane sugar. From a climate change perspective, 1kg of refined cane sugar leads to emissions of 0.42kg of CO2e, while sugar from beets emits twice as much.

Clearly, sugar presents a compelling sustainability challenge to the world, and sustainability is an important and growing issue to consumers the world over. There has been a marked jump in the public’s expectations around sustainable product manufacture – Innova Market Insights found in 2019 that 89% of consumers now expect companies to invest in sustainability, up more than one-third since 2018. Over 70% of global consumers told Nielsen in 2019 they would “definitely” or “probably” change their consumption patterns habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

Kerry further pointed out that products branded as “sustainable” over the last five years have had 5.6 times faster annual growth than traditional products. Sugar reduction not only contributes to good health, it is also healthier for the environment and for brand differentiation. Aggressive sugar reduction, in short, is a product development strategy for food and beverage companies worldwide.