Wow! We knew the whole sugar topic was controversial but after having done a bit of research over the past few weeks it has proved to be an explosively emotive and complex area for punters and the food industry to navigate. There is no one simple solution but we have identified a three-pronged strategy, which we are now working on to launch in 2015.
Firstly we’re focusing hard on reducing the sugar in all Honeybuns products. This includes both refined and less refined sugars.
By law wrapped food products have to ‘Quid’ or list ingredients in descending order on the ingredients label. On average sugar (or syrup/honey/rice syrup) features as number 3 on a Honeybuns product. Not bad considering sugar commonly features as number 1 or number 2 with less premium brands. We could do better though. Our aim is to achieve an average sugar listing of number 4; this being the first stage in our Honeybuns sugar strategy.
Secondly we need to apply the following criteria to a range of sugars and their alternatives:
– Is it natural and how do we define natural?
– Taste/texture/behaviour when baked and frozen
– Sustainable and ethically sourced?
– GI rating?
– Nutritional profile including vitamins/minerals?
– Glucose or fructose based (or both)?
– Paleo compatible?
– Calorie content?
– Proven track record?
– Any other special qualities/drawbacks?
We’re currently looking at honey as one of our sweeteners of choice. Strict vegans may be disappointed but honey’s taste and ‘texture suitability’ as a baking ingredient are very attractive to us. We also value the fact that honey is all-natural and has been used for millennia as a sweetener.
We’ve had great customer feedback about our cult classic – the Honeybuns Honey, Almond & Slightly Salted Pistachio Cookie. Customers tell us they prefer honey to regular sugar in terms of flavour. Added bonuses are honey’s high quantity of anti oxidants and its natural antiseptic effect.
We’re trialling it with a view to straight swapping it for sugar in our flapjacks, cookies and brownies. Like any sugar, honey is not going to be good for you in excess. It’s not a miracle solution but it ticks a lot more of our boxes compared to regular white or brown sugar.
We are not sure if honey will give the correct texture to our more sponge like cakes so we are also looking at slightly less refined sugars such as demerara where the flavour is richer. There is a lot of Hoopla being made about ‘unrefined sugars’ at the moment and we’re extremely keen not to jump on this particular band wagon without due consideration. For instance, it wasn’t very long ago that Agave Nectar was touted as a natural, low GI alternative to sugar. It has now become controversial – we’ll include more information about this in our next blog about sugar.
It’s fair to say that if you have a sweetener in a crystalline form then it has been refined. Nutrients and minerals may be technically higher in the slightly less refined versions but they are present only in trace amounts. To be blunt, sugar in any form, is of no significant nutritional benefit.
However, it tastes great, lends texture and caramelises and browns – all desirable in baked cakes. In our view, the golden and demerara sugars are better from a flavour point of view but we cannot claim they are any better for you. Hence our primary focus on reducing the overall amounts in each recipe first.
Lastly we are also trialling all things date. Including date paste. This is made from all natural dates and it is proving to be very promising in some recipes. We’ll be looking to launch an all date sweetened product in 2015-..
As ever, any comments you’d like to make would be very gratefully received. We’re all about improving what we do and what we can offer you.