KIND Healthy Snacks (KIND) is encouraging transparency to the prevalent use of sweeteners in popular snack foods. To kick-start the educational journey, KIND – which has long disclosed the sugar in its snacks – unveiled an augmented reality installation and online database that showcase the multitude of different sweeteners and sugar sources hidden in top-selling snacks.
“There are more than 100 different names and types of sweeteners and sugar sources out there. Many of these are still foreign to me, and there’s no doubt that consumers are also confused,” says Daniel Lubetzky, Founder & CEO of KIND. “When some of the top-selling snacks many people believe to be healthy have a similar sugar profile as a dessert, that’s a problem. People deserve to know what they’re eating.”
The pop-up display comes at a time when sweeteners and sugar sources are more rampant in snacks than ever. Nearly 75% of packaged foods and drinks in the US contain a sugar or low-calorie sweetener, according to a study in The Lancet. In a survey fielded by Washington DC-based Morning Consult, 41% of respondents say when they read a food label, they don’t understand which ingredients are sweeteners.
“While peoples’ focus surrounding sweeteners is increasing, there’s little understanding of how to identify them on food labels,” says Stephanie Csaszar, Registered Dietitian and Health & Wellness Expert at KIND. “How can we expect consumers to know that hydrogenated starch is a mixture of sugar alcohols such as sorbitol and maltitol or that sucanat is a less-refined version of cane sugar? Through this effort, we aim to bring greater awareness to the 100+ name variations and types of sweeteners and sugar sources found in foods that individuals might not realize they’re consuming daily.”
For years, snack categories such as energy and snack bars, yogurt, cereal and granola have been perceived as overall healthy destinations, but KIND’s pop-up display and online database revealed that many options in those aisles have sweetener content at similar levels to that in desserts & frozen treats. For example, some energy bars are comprised of more than 30% sugar. "Added sweeteners are masters of disguise and most Americans consume too much from all the various forms,” says Jeannie Gazzaniga-Moloo, PhD, RDN, California State University, Sacramento. “I teach this to hundreds of my undergraduate students each year as one of my take home points.”
The ‘Sweeteners Uncovered’ pop-up shop will leverage augmented-reality technology to not only highlight the total sugar content of some of America’s favorite snacks, but also the obscure sweetener names that they are hiding behind. The installation will be open to the general public at 579 Broadway in SoHo from 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM EST today (4/10) and tomorrow (4/11). The initiative and national index will also be available online at www.sweetenersuncovered.com.
ADDITIONAL MORNING CONSULT SURVEY RESULTS
• 78% of respondents couldn’t identify the main difference between sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners
• 42% of respondents say that it’s difficult to determine if a snack contains artificial sweeteners
• When asked to name any sweeteners found in food & beverages, 40% of respondents couldn’t name any
• 2004: KIND launched its first products with the KIND promise to always lead with nutrient-dense ingredients, like whole nuts, whole fruits and whole grains as opposed to sugar
• 2012: KIND first introduced Nuts & Spices bars – which contain 4-5 grams of sugar without any artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols
• 2015: KIND supported a proposal from FDA to include added sugars on the Nutrition Facts Panel
• 2015: KIND announced an effort to reduce the sugar in eleven of its Fruit & Nut bars to contain between 14 and 57% less added sugar compared to prior recipes
• 2016: KIND became first national snack brand to publish the added sugar content across its portfolio on labels, nearly two years in advance of the deadline set by FDA
• 2017: KIND unveiled first-ever national fruit snack with no added sugar & made only of whole fruit