SWEET is investigating the ramifications for replacing added sugar within food and drink products with sweeteners and sweetness enhancers. Part of that research is the sustainability of making the change. In order to do this, the environmental, social and economic ramifications from across the entire production supply chain, through to consumption of the foods and waste treatment afterwards must be assessed. Much of this research is conducted through interviews and desk-based studies, with a further important aspect being stakeholder engagement through workshops.
On the 13th and 14th January 2021, SWEET held a virtual workshop over Zoom. It was held jointly between work packages 5 (Sustainability Analysis of Sweeteners and Sweetness Enhancers) and 6 (Stakeholder Engagement, Dissemination and Commercial Exploitation). The purpose was to invite external stakeholders to the SWEET project to understand more about the sustainability research that had been conducted up to that date, seek opinion on the information that had been found, and to get feedback to better inform the future direction of the research. |The research findings were presented in plenaries, followed by breakout groups to discuss the environmental, social and economic aspects separately.
Stakeholders included representatives from industrial manufacturers of both sweeteners and food products, non-profit organisations and academic researchers, many of whom are members of international sweetener association bodies. Participants were interested to learn about how a sustainability study is conducted, as this is the first time it has been applied to sweetener use in foods. The feedback from the discussion has also enabled WP5 researchers to better refine their research direction for the future, allowing them to focus on the sweeteners which are of most interest to the wider food and drink communities. We envision the Sustainability work as part of an iterative process. Discussion in the Stakeholder Workshop around assessment of sweetener use in food products also contributed to better defining the scope and parameters of our sustainability research.