Volume 6 | Issue 10

October 20, 2020

Sweet Beyond Sugar


The country’s collective sweet tooth is evolving and maturing as consumers seek out better-for-you options without giving up their favorite indulgences. Not only are they looking for dishes made with less sugar, they’re becoming more discerning when it comes to sweet ingredients. Restaurants can capitalize on the trend toward ditching refined sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners by incorporating all-natural alternatives instead. Ingredients such as pure maple syrup, sorghum, coconut sugar, malted barley extracts and 100% fruit juice add subtle sweetness and depth of flavor while also boasting lower glycemic index values than processed sugars. Menu transparency and feel-good culinary storytelling also play a role in boosting the profiles of alternative sources of sweetness. For example, the use of honey can support a local ingredient story and raise awareness around sustainability and bee-friendly habitats. And the culinary possibilities are remarkable—according to Flavor & The Menu, there are over 300 varietals of honey, each with their own unique flavor notes, aroma, color and texture. Agave is another versatile sweetener making an impact, showing tremendous menu growth (80% in QSR alone) as it pops up in beverages, savory sauces, salad dressings and smoothies.




Hungry for more?
Check out our FlavorIQ® video for insights behind this top trend.


Datassential MenuTrends, Agave: US QSR menu penetration growth 2016-2020.
Datassential, “TIPS: Alternative Sugars,” August 2019.

“Flavor of the Week: Agave, a sweetener with a health halo,” Nation’s Restaurant News, August 24, 2020. Rob Corliss, “Sweet Storytelling,” Flavor & The Menu, January 9, 2020.