Stonyfield yogurt will contain 25 percent less sugar by the end of the year, the company announced on Monday.
"The commitment to reducing sugar across the product portfolio was born from Stonyfield's mission to continually provide healthier food both for our consumers and the planet," said Nichole Cirillo, Stonyfield's newly appointed Mission Director, in a press release.
The announcement of the sugar reduction plan comes after more than two years of research using Stonyfield’s extensive proprietary culture strains. Stonyfield was able to reduce the tartness of its plain yogurt, allowing for a reduction in sugar without sacrificing taste.
“We’ve tried reducing sugar over the years,” Lisa Hammer, Stonyfield’s product development manager, told Fortune. “We get feedback that [consumers] don’t like it. They don’t like the sugar, and they don’t like the alternatives.”
The consumer shift away from non-fat and low-fat options has made the sugar reduction process easier, according to Hammer.
"Fat is another way of carrying flavor and making something seem more indulgent,” she says. “With fat free, there’s not a lot to work with.”
Stonyfield YoKids yogurt is already available with as much as 40 percent less sugar than other leading low-fat kids’ yogurts, and the company also sells plain, unsweetened Stonyfield YoBaby yogurt.
“We recognized that they didn’t need to be sweet for a baby’s palate,” Hammer says. “We’re changing the whole approach and not promoting such a sweet product for babies.”
This move by Stonyfield, which is owned by French Danone, is the latest commitment by a major food company to reduce the amount of sugar added to products. Nestlé announced in December its plan to cut the sugar in its chocolate by 40 percent by 2018.
In May of last year, FDA announced that it would be adding an "added sugars" line to Nutrition Facts labels by July 2018. This decision makes it easier for consumers to comply with a 2015 FDA guideline recommending that they reduce their added sugar consumption to a maximum of 50 grams per day.
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