Sugar remains the most widely used sweetener in food and beverage production. It is more affordable than sugar substitutes, has the broadest flavor appeal of all sweeteners, and has functionality beyond merely sweetening. It provides bulk and structure, and can even contribute to shelflife and food safety. Yet sugar—and by proxy, other nutritive sweeteners—have ended up as victims of a blanket condemnation of calories, especially so-called “empty” ones.
Ironically, it was the trend toward healthier foods and the inclusive drive toward “natural” ingredients that began a sort of redemption of sugar and other nutritive sweeteners. Starting with such ingredients as agave syrup, maple syrup, honey, and rice syrup, the sweetness from these various combinations of predominantly glucose and fructose delivered the cachet of naturalness—all for the same 4 kcals/gram.