Innovating great-tasting low-calorie beverages

Brian Guthrie, PhD
Senior Fellow
Cargill’s Global Food Research Group

Traditional products and brands are under pressure to reformulate for nutritional or sustainability reasons. Consumers are scrutinizing food and beverage labels to better understand the origins of their food and the nutritional benefits of the ingredients on the label. Yet how can you alter the ingredients in an iconic brand while preserving the familiar satisfying sensory attributes? How can you create products that are nutritious and also taste great? Major food and beverage makers are grappling with these questions and Cargill can help to answer them.

Manufacturers are attempting to capture market share by delivering more value in their products. Ingredient costs will always be a constraint. With 25 years in food research with CPGs an

d food ingredient suppliers, it’s clear to me that today a higher level of innovation is required to deliver products that consumers will value and buy. Innovation is needed to meet the performance, cost and value needs of both iconic brands and the development of new products.

With food material science experts in Cargill’s Global Food Research Group and our capabilities in advanced sensory science, measurement and characterization, and food chemistry and physics, Cargill can rapidly help customers innovate by uniting its expertise in ingredient performance with its science-based understanding of food processing and design.

Cargill provides most of the ingredients for many food products, such as beverages, dressings and sauces. We understand both the performance of certain ingredients in various combinations and applications and how food processing affects sensory performance.

Cargill builds innovation by combining ingredients technology with food processing and sensory performance, an approach that has been validated as more of our customers seek to move from transaction-based relationships with Cargill to innovation partnerships. It's exciting when a

manufacturer opens up its processing capabilities and says, "Let’s innovate together." An example of that innovation is Cargill’s new TasteWise™ reduced-calorie solutions.

In one example, we used our multi-ingredient approach to develop technology to manage the sensory performance, or multi-sensory performance, of carbonated lemon-lime soft drinks.  It was well known that the sensory performance of the diet version was significantly different than that of their full-calorie counterparts. Efforts by beverage developers to “fix” them with high-intensity sweeteners and flavor adjustments did not work.

Cargill develops ingredients that work together to improve multi-sensory performance, a process that we call balancing the taste triangle. We discovered that the secret to superior taste in reduced-calorie beverages is balancing sweetness, flavor AND texture.

We used our patent-pending technology and systems of natural high-intensity sweeteners, mouthfeel ingredients and tuned flavor systems to lower calories while controlling flavor release, increasing body and lowering aftertaste. The result? TasteWise™ reduced calorie solutions, which beverage makers use to make their reduced-calorie products perform more like full-calorie products.

TasteWise™ is just one example of Cargill's approach to innovation. Cargill is continually developing structure-sensory relationships that result in design principles that drive innovation. I, for one, can’t wait to taste the results.


Brian Guthrie, PhD, is a senior fellow in Cargill’s Global Food Research group. He has more than 25 years of experience in food and beverage research and development, having also held posts at Kellogg Company, Firmenich and Kraft General Foods.