Does Knowing Your Sugar Change Your Choice?

nci-vol-2627-72

Source: National Cancer Institute, Renee Comet (Photographer)

Beet and cane sugars, the primary sources of commercial sucrose, are nearly identical in terms of their chemical composition, composed of more than 99% sucrose. Despite their similar chemical identities, researchers have identified differences between beet and cane sugars based on volatile profiles, thermal behaviors, minor chemical components, and their functionality in some foods. The advantages and disadvantages of beet vs. cane sugars are bandied about by chefs, the media, and bloggers. Some regard the sugars as the same, while others argue that there is a noticeable difference between them.

A study in this month’s issue of Journal of Food Science takes an interesting approach to the cane/beet sugar discussion. Brittany Urbanus, Shelly Schmidt, and Soo-Yeun Lee assessed the effect of information labels that specified the sugar source in an orange-flavored beverage to overall liking of that beverage. The researchers found that specifying the sugar source on the product label, in this case an orange-flavored beverage, does not influence the general populations’ overall liking of the product. Panelists placed more value on the sensory properties of the products than the product label specifying sugar source when evaluating overall liking. For this reason, specifying the sugar source on the product label may not lead to higher acceptability for the general population. However, they did find that providing information does increase acceptance regardless of the sugar source, so providing accurate information on the label may be a marketing strategy to consider.

Beet and cane sugars, the primary sources of commercial sucrose, are nearly identical in terms of their chemical composition, containing greater than 99% sucrose. Though their chemical identities are comparable, researchers have identified differences between beet and cane sugars in regard to their analytically determined volatile profiles, thermal behaviors, minor chemical components, and their functionality in some food products The reputation of beet and cane sugars and their functionality in products has also gained attention in the popular press, including Internet articles and blogs. Some users regard the sugars as the same, while others argue that there is a noticeable difference between them. The objective of this study was to assess the effect of information labels that specified the sugar source in an orange-flavored beverage to overall liking of that beverage.The researchers hypothesized that consumer liking for the beverage would change depending on the information condition (blind or informed) in which they were evaluated and the sugar source (beet or cane) that the beverage contained. They hypothesized that consumer liking of the beverage containing beet sugar would decrease when evaluated in informed conditions compared to blind conditions. They found that specifying the sugar source on the product label, in particular an orange-flavored beverage, does not influence the general populations’ overall liking of the product. Panelists placed more value on the sensory properties of the products than the product label specifying sugar source when evaluating overall liking. Specifying the sugar source on the product label may not lead to higher acceptability for the general population. However, providing information does increase acceptance regardless of the sugar source.

Does Information about Sugar Source Influence Consumer Liking of Products Made with Beet and Cane Sugars? 

Brittany L. Urbanus, Shelly J. Schmidt, Soo-Yeun Lee

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