It certainly seems that way after a survey was conducted by HEALA  in association with Genesis Analytics and the international consultancy Vital Strategies.

A survey sample consisting of 1,000 respondents representing the adult population in the metropolitan areas of Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape was used and the findings were quite revealing. There was a strong approval from consumers for government action to combat obesity and reduce the consumption of unhealthy foods.

Consumer awareness

In South Africa alone consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the impact sugar has on our health. The survey found that six out of 10 people are “very concerned” or “extremely concerned” about the harm caused by sugary drinks to their health and, moreover, the health of their children.

Does it mean because South Africans are more aware of sugar-related health problems that they are more open to supporting a high tax on sugar?

And what does this awareness mean for food producers now that the pressure is on to reduce salt, sugar and trans-fats in food?

Manufacturing response

These are some of the changes that are already taking place so that people continue to purchase the brands which carry sugar:

  1. 1. Reducing the serving size of products such as smaller chocolate bars

2. Replacing sugar with non-nutritive sweeteners, including the healthier sugar- alternative Stevia, as we have seen with    Coca Cola’s green can called Life

3. Reducing sugar/salt within the time frames stipulated by the government

But the leading question remains, how are consumers going to react to these changes?

Will consumers continue to use the reduced-sugar sweetened soft drinks or will they shift to alternative drinks such as diet sodas, low-sugar variants, tea or water? Will they now eat two of the smaller chocolate bars to make up for the larger original sizes?

Nestle has just developed a remarkably innovative way to combat the sugar problem, which may encourage consumers to continue eating and drinking sugar as they were. Researchers at Nestle have recently found a new way to drastically cut sugar content in chocolate by up to 40% but without losing its usual sweet taste. The process involves altering the physical structure of sugar. Exactly how this works remains strictly secret as the company is still waiting to patent the process. But Nestle’s Chief Technology Officer, Stefan Catsicas, hinted at the company creating ‘hollow’ sugar crystals, which dissolve quickly in the mouth.


So, it appears that companies are doing their job to reduce the unhealthy calories consumers take in. Perhaps the real education should be about how much sugar is being consumed and how much (or little) should be consumed in a day.

Food shopping card 400x262 300x197 - How Can Brands Containing Sugar Keep Consumers Happy?A simple campaign which can inform consumers about the impact of salt / sugar consumption and how much we should be consuming, like the UK’s Food Shopping Card, is essential for consumers. Through education and awareness over the last few years, the media has changed the way people view sugar.

If brands containing sugar, proactively make the change to sugar-free and at the same time make their audiences aware of this, they could most certainly increase consumer loyalty.


Our view at Market Instinct is that, when it comes to sugar consumption, the food manufacturers who take the lead in reducing sugar systematically and educating consumers, will come out the winners. A pro-active approach, as opposed to a forced response is more likely to win over the consumer in the long term.

In our experience, testing products amongst consumers of the category is critical. Through sensory taste-testing, we are able to identify the level of sugar reduction manufacturers can apply at one time, without losing loyal consumers. This will lead to an evolutionary change in products, reducing sugar content over time – without loss of market share.