Those of you in my age bracket may remember the now famous beer campaign of the early eighties that featured a wide range of celebrities debating whether their favorite beer was “great tasting” or “less filling.” Although this successful campaign lasted for only a number of years, few could debate the continuing success of this product in delivering on both the taste and calorie fronts.
Although not every product or product category has had success in merging full-flavor taste in a lower calorie offering, the successful ones continue to meet the desires of a growing health-conscious consumer base. Can anyone argue with the success of the light beer category? From the introduction of Miller Lite to today’s multiple product offerings under 100 calories, the beer category seems to be going lighter and lighter.
Can anyone dispute the success and impact of diet sodas? Diet Coke has now topped Pepsi to become the second most popular soft drink in the country behind only Coca-Cola. Diet Coke and Miller Lite have found the proper balance of taste and calories to meet consumer preference.
The real question is whether consumers are willing to trade taste for fewer calories and for that matter, less alcohol. Or will they continue to demand only products that deliver full-flavored taste in a lower calorie offering. This certainly seems to be the case in the cocktail mix category, as a wide range of products are now emerging to meet consumer demand for great-tasting products with fewer calories. As health and wellness focus continues to grow, products promoted as light, natural, organic, or vitamin-enriched are gaining more interest from a growing beverage consumer base. When you consider an average 10 oz. margarita can contain up to 500 calories, it’s easy to understand why consumers desire the same great taste but with a lot fewer calories. But how can this be done? How can the proper balance be achieved without sacrificing something?
Kerry Ingredients and Flavours is a global company that develops, manufactures, and delivers technology-based ingredients, flavors, and integrated solutions for the food and beverage industry. This company is introducing cost-effective, natural, low-calorie options that meet a wide range of industry needs. Within Kerry Ingredients & Flavours’ portfolio, there are several strategies to reduce sugar and calorie levels. One method is substituting sugar with High Intensity Sweeteners (HIS), such as Stevia. Another is the use of natural fruit flavors, which allow the fruit sugars to maintain the flavor profile but also reduce the calorie levels associated with sugar.
Stuart McCarroll, Vice President – Strategic & National Accounts, Kerry Beverage Systems, notes, “Low-calorie products are commonly associated with low quality and less flavor, which creates a large obstacle because consumers want fewer calories but full flavor. With Kerry’s proprietary flavor modulation technology ™ (FMT), a low-calorie product can be created by using the same ingredients as a traditional product to ensure a similar, full-flavor product. With (FMT), Kerry is able to provide beverage solutions with significantly-reduced calorie counts at the reduction level of the consumer’s choice–25% to 50%.” McCarroll added, “One such product leveraging the (FMT) technology is the DaVinci Gourmet SkinniLicious™ Margarita Mixer recently launched in March. The new line is made with traditional margarita ingredients, including real lime and orange juice concentrates and real sugar, to deliver great taste and mouth-feel versus other low-calorie products. With the (FMT) technology, it can do that at only 15 calories per mixer serving. Servers simply add tequila for a consistent, delicious margarita of roughly 100 calories, similar to a light beer and 50% less than a traditional margarita. The SkinniLicious™ Margarita Mixer saves calories for consumers, saves time for servers, and does it all with great taste.” “Our extensive knowledge in developing great-tasting products with lower calories is something we bring to all of our new product development,” added Leanna Mix, Director of Customer Experience at Kerry. “Why develop syrup with 100 calories when you can deliver the same results with 60 calories. We believe this strategy will work out best for everyone in the long run.”
American Beverage Marketers, the makers of Finest Call Premium Cocktail Mixes and Master of Mixes, have been monitoring this growing trend for years. “We’ve watched the food side of grocery products explode with low-calorie options for quite some time,” says Bill Hinkebein, Vice President/Marketing for ABM. “As a company focused exclusively on the cocktail mix category, we realized that a low-calorie cocktail mix offering could expand the category to consumers who typically would shy away from cocktails in general for various health reasons (e.g., calorie content, sugar content, etc.). This anecdotal evidence led us to believe there was a viable market for low-calorie cocktails.”
“In response to this need we developed Finest Call Lites in three flavors: Margarita, Sweet ‘n Sour, and Bar Syrup,” added Theresa Martin, Marketing Manager for Finest Call. ”We found the right balance of real, premium fruit juices and a small amount of Splenda (the brand name for sucralose) for a low-calorie cocktail with robust flavor.” “It’s not just sucralose and premium fruit juice that make our Lite mixes taste so comparable to their full-calorie counterparts,” added Hinkebein. “After years of research, our technical team developed a proprietary blend of ingredients that enhances mouth-feel, flavor delivery, and reduces calorie content by 90%.”
So the real “skinny” on low-calorie mixers is that you can have the best of both worlds in a single product. You just have to be willing to ask for it!