Case Study: Reducing Sugar Content

With the population’s increased awareness of the health and nutritional benefits of food, many of our clients are seeking to reduce sugar in their products. In this case study, we helped an ice cream manufacturer identify reduced sugar options in the short and long term.


Our client, a manufacturer of ice cream, wants to reduce the sugar content of all items in its portfolio: 10% this year and 20% within five years in order to meet the highest nutritional standards.

We need to provide information on the threshold for consumers for sugar reduction prior to adjusting formulations in other ways to account for reduced sucrose in the formulation.

We conducted a range test to provide information on the perceived differences of various reduction levels vs. the Control (current product).


We looked at consumers 18 – 65 years old (Female: 70-80%, Male: 20-30%) who were the primary grocery shopper and had purchased packaged ice cream. Our consumers were chocolate ice cream loyal, having purchased and consumed regular full fat, full calorie Chocolate ice cream at least 2-3 times per month or once per week during summer months. Additionally, at least 4 out of the last 10 packaged ice cream purchases is our Client’s Chocolate ice cream.

We looked at six attributes on a 0 – 5 point scale with 0 being no noticeable difference and 5 being a very large difference.

  • Appearance/color
  • Coldness in the mouth
  • The way the sample melts in mouth
  • Chocolate flavor
  • Sweetness
  • Overall difference from the Reference

Our findings showed that a 10% reduction in sugar is noticeably different overall from the current chocolate ice cream with 98% level of confidence. Our best estimate from this study is that sugar could be reduced by up to 8-9% before there would be a significant overall noticeable difference from the current product.

Here’s an example of the data we presented.

Contemplating a change to your product? Please reach out for a consultation on how our research can help you decide what changes can be made with minimal impact to the consumer.

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