Can ingesting so many sugar wannabes be a good thing? Remember that saccharin and aspartame were once touted as safe and calorie free before they were found to be totally toxic. Anne Marie Chaker reports for the Wall Street Journal:
At the Whole Foods Market in Silver Spring, Md., the self-serve coffee counter offers four types of milk and nearly every imaginable alternative to granulated sugar. There’s unrefined sugar, evaporated cane juice, agave nectar—and a no-calorie sugar substitute called Truvia.
The green packets are tucked behind the cash register; if you want it, you have to ask. That’s because they have a way of disappearing. “People take a lot more than they need,” says Liz Burkhart, a Whole Foods spokeswoman.
Truvia’s maker, agricultural giant Cargill Inc., of Minneapolis, is aware that consumers often stock up on Truvia packets at coffee bars and in restaurants. Zanna McFerson, vice president and business director for Cargill Health and Nutrition, says Cargill is developing a dispenser that would limit the number of packets a consumer can take at once.
One reason Truvia is so appealing is its position as a “natural” alternative to aspartame, saccharin and other chemically derived sugar substitutes. Fans say they think Truvia’s taste and texture are closer to sugar than those of older entries. It’s true that Truvia pours out of the packet in convincing crystal-like granules, not in a powder. And when sprinkled on top of foods such as cereal, Truvia crunches.
Some detractors, though, complain of a Truvia aftertaste, especially when it is used in coffee. And many customers blanch at the price. A 40-count box of Truvia packets retails for $4.29 at the Giant Foods supermarket in Silver Spring, compared with $2.99 for a 50-count box of Splenda.
Few consumer products have been a greater marketing challenge than no-calorie sweeteners. Companies have devoted teams of scientists to trying to develop better-tasting sugar-substitutes. “I don’t think anyone’s cracked the code,” says Allen Adamson, managing director of the New York office of brand-consulting firm Landor Associates. Consumers resist, whether complaining about taste or worrying about safety.
Taste “used to be the only thing [marketers] had to worry about,” Mr. Adamson says. “Does it taste good? Is there an aftertaste?” Now, he says, “the new challenge is to alleviate the lingering concerns . . . . Did they really test it on enough rats over a long enough period of time?”…
[continues in the Wall Street Journal]