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Using design thinking to increase sugar reduction options in consumer food products Part 1, Sugars and the design thinking framework

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SUSAN MAYER, JAMIE PERO PARKER
RTI International, Research Triangle Park,North Carolina, USA

Abstract

Sugars are integral to most food products, providing or enhancing taste, texture, and stability. Because of health concerns, consumers want products with less sugar but that still have great taste. Many sugar substitutes are available, but every product system has unique characteristics and trade-offs, and this can create uncertainty for the product developer. Design thinking approaches give product developers a way to consider how best to reduce sugar. This article, Part 1 of a 2-part series, discusses sugars and their role in foods. The design thinking framework of desirability, feasibility, and viability is introduced along with practical examples. A separate article, Part 2, will explore how the framework can be applied across a wide range of product examples.


INTRODUCTION 

Sugar. Azucar. Sucre. Zucchero. Zucker. In any language and culture, sugar is an important ingredient in many foods, creating the flavours and textures that consumers demand. However, sugar in excessive amounts is also a health
concern (1). This dichotomy leaves food companies with the dilemma of creating food products that consumers enjoy and want to purchase while respecting the goal of improved health. With so many different products, and so many ingredient options that provide sweetness, how can product developers deliver more innovation to meet consumer wants, health objectives and business needs? Design thinking may be the answer to faster, and more focused product development. This article, Part 1 of a two-part series, suggests that new options for reducing sugar begin with understanding sugar and its role in food, while also understanding design thinking and how to apply it to product development. 

Product developers have numerous options to reduce sugar in products – maybe too many – which makes it hard to know where to start. Design t ...