Progressive Grocer - May 2010 - (Page 46)

Grocery Sweetening the Pot By James Mellgren A look at the world of confection reveals a lot of activity regarding better-for-you treats and some exciting specialty selections. atisfying one’s sweet tooth has never been easier or tastier, and yet in many ways, it has never been more complicated. Amid swirling controversy surrounding high-fructose corn syrup and other types of sugar, as well as confusion about the myriad types of artificial sweeteners, not to mention the expansion of our collective waistline, American consumers have never had more to think about regarding their sweets. Can’t a fella just have a simple snack? As the National Confectioners Association’s Sweets & Snacks Expo 2010 (formerly the All Candy Expo) gets ready to kick off in Chicago May 25, thousands of buyers from around the world will make decisions representing $150 billion of worldwide buying power in the confection, snack and cookie categories. That’s no small change for the fun, feel-good foods we consume outside of traditional mealtimes. One could argue that in today’s teetering economy, snacking is even more important, and in addition to getting the medicine down, a spoonful of sugar can help us get through some rough times, too, making it a sweet business indeed. Sweets for the Sweet S Consumed in moderation, there is little evidence that sugar is particularly bad for us, and despite attempts to demonize the substance over the years, it remains a popular source of 46 • Progressive Grocer • May 2010 enjoyment for millions of Americans, and the products it enhances are central to the food business. Of course, there are many other types of sweeteners, including sugar made from beets, maple syrup, agave syrup (from A H E A D O F W H AT ’ S N E X T the same genus of plant from which tequila is derived) and corn syrup, to name a few, plus a whole list of artificial sweeteners that are finding their way into a vast array of snacks and confections. Sugar and maple syrup are the simplest to produce, and arguably the most natural. According to the Washington-based Sugar Association (, common white table sugar results when sugar cane stalks are shredded and squeezed to extract the natural juice, which is then boiled until it thickens and the molasses-rich crystals begin to settle. These crystals are sent through a centrifuge device, separating out the molasses and leaving white sugar crystals that are then allowed to dry. No chemicals or bleach are necessary for the process to occur. Artificial sweeteners are more complicated, although most are derived from natural sources, albeit highly processed. One is stevia, a natural sweetener about 300 times sweeter than sugar but containing no calories or carbohydrates. It comes from a plant in the chrysanthemum family that grows wild in Central and South America. It’s marketed under several brand names, including Truvia, PureVia and SweetLeaf (which was recently chosen as the official stevia sweetener at the

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Progressive Grocer - May 2010

Progressive Grocer - May 2010
Nielsen’s Shelf Stoppers/ Spotlight: Candy/Non-ChocolateCandy
Super 50: Steadfast Leaders
The Lempert Report: ConAgra, Celebs Battle Child Hunger
Best Practices: Starting at the Top
Wake-up Call: Coupons Make a Comeback
Store of the Month: Roots and Wings
Harold Lloyd on … Making a Difference: Why Work as a Clerk?
Experience at Large: Put Your Best Customers to Work
Confection: Sweetening the Pot
Tea: Brewing up Sales
Non-alcoholic Beverages: Summer Quenchers
Summer Grilling Special: What a Gas!
Produce: Local and Lovin’ it
IDDBA Show Preview: Recipe for Success
Trends: The Summertime Freeze
Meats & Cheeses: Brown-bagging Sales
Food Industry Insights: Leadership for the Future
Tech Toolbox: A Look at the Latest Solutions
Out of the Box: The Latest Tools of the Trade
Roundtable: The Executioners
Foodservice: Green Machines
What’s Next: Editors’ Picks for Innovative Products

Progressive Grocer - May 2010