Tracking the low sugar trends


Open any newspaper in the UK at the moment and there is a high chance you will see an article related to reducing your sugar intake. It appears as though sugar is the new salt in the list of food additives to be avoiding.  

Our mySupermarket Analysts were intrigued and decided to delve into the data behind the trend to gain an understanding of the key question ‘has the number of reduced sugar items in supermarkets increased over the last 4 years?’. When analysing our historical data, we noticed that the number of products which claim to contain reduced or no sugar jumped from 4,670 available items in 2012 to 5,169 available items in 2016. The number of products in fact peaked in 2016 at over 6,000.


To understand which supermarkets are leading the way in the reduced sugar trend, we compared the year on year increases for 2013 – 2015 across some of the major retailers featured on mySupermarket.


ASDA and Tesco are leading the way in the reduced sugar movement. However, whilst we noticed a peak in products availability in 2014, the number of Tesco & ASDA reduced sugar products available reduced slightly in 2015, whilst it increased slightly in Ocado, Sainsbury’s & Morrisons.

We then analysed popular reduced sugar and sugar free searches on mySupermarket during the first three months of 2012, comparing them to the first three months of 2016. In support of our theory, we discovered there was a significant increase in the number of customers searching for more health conscious options.

Searches for reduced sugar products had been steadily increasing over a 4 year period, so what happened in 2016? Were people saturated by sugar information? Let’s take a look at popular sugar free snacking search terms over the years to see if our tastes have changed as education around the health impact of sugar has received a higher profile.


mySupermarket’s Sugar Swap Campaign

In January 2015 mySupermarket teamed up with Public Health England and launched the sugar swaps initiative. The aim was to highlight the number of sugar cubes in a shopper’s basket and educate shoppers how much sugar is in their baskets. When researching the impact of the increase in available reduced sugar products, we were curious to see if consumer behaviour had changed. It was discovered that shoppers baskets in fact contained a higher number of sugar cubes in 2016 than they did in 2014. The increased awareness of the dangers of sugar in the UK media had possibly not translated into changing behaviours. Alternatively, it could be the case that claims of ‘reduced sugar’ made by manufacturers does not equate to no sugar and shoppers might be buying more products containing sugar in them.


Health trends come and go, however we feel that reducing sugar is an initiative that is here to stay. We’ll continue to keep our eyes trained to customer behaviour on this topic over the coming months.

Data analysed spans from January 2012 to April 2016 inclusive.

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