UK– Dairy company Muller is set to reduce sugar by up to 9% and gain a creamier texture in its Müller Corner brands, thanks to its discovery of a new yogurt culture.

This follows a rigorous research and development process, which involved access to more than 13,000 strains,

Müller says it discovered that the combination of two specific yoghurt strains of Streptococcus thermophilus andLactobacillus bulgaricuscreated a less sour tasting yogurt which means less sugar is required to be added to create a better taste.

The company has worked for the last 18 months to develop the new culture and the new recipes, which will be available from May 2019.

The company says it has already reduced total sugar by 13.5%, equivalent to 1759 tonnes across its yoghurt portfolio.

It says the new mild recipe could allow it to reduce sugar in its Müller Corner range by 9%.

The dairy company is also removing all added sugar from its core Müllerlight range, reducing the total sugar content by up to 28%.

“From industry leading sugar reformulation to helping children to become more active, we’re extremely passionate about empowering people to live more healthy lifestyles. So as the UK’s favourite yogurt brand, the challenge we faced was how to reduce sugar, without ever compromising on taste.

“By changing the culture we use to make our yogurt we’ve created something completely unique. Not only does the new Corner yogurt recipe have a thicker and creamier texture, but it has less sugar. It’s backed by our consumer sampling, and we’re very excited to bring this new recipe to market,” said Michael Inpong, Chief Marketing Officer at Müller.

Consumer testing by 150 people showed that respondents preferred the thicker texture and creamier taste of the new product.

The discovery is part of Müller’s £100m investment to innovate, develop, manufacture and market a new generation of yoghurt and desserts products.

The company early this year reformulated its Müllerlight Greek Style and Müllerlight Fruitopolis, removing sugar altogether from the formulations.

It also previously reformulated its Müller Corner Strawberry flavour so that it has 19% less sugar and launched Müller Corner Plain, the dairy company’s first ever Müller Corner made with unsweetened natural Greek style yogurt.

Müller’s move follows increased interest by dairy companies to reformulate their products to reduce sugar.

US dairy producer Yoplait early this year introduced a reduced sugar brand, YQ by Yoplait, with 40% less sugar than the competition.

“We talked to thousands of people to really understand what they were missing from the yogurt aisle. We heard loud and clear the need for a smart snack option – something made with simple ingredients, less sugar and higher protein.

“What we’ve been able to accomplish with YQ by Yoplait delivers on this desire. Through our use of simple ingredients, ultra-filtered milk and active cultures, we’ve created a protein-packed, less sweet flavor profile with a thick, smooth, extra creamy texture. It’s unlike anything that exists in the yogurt aisle today,” said Doug Martin, vice president of marketing for Yoplait USA at the launch of the brand.

A recent survey in the UK, which looked at about 900 yoghurt products available on British supermarket shelves in 2016 revealed that those aimed at children had ‘shockingly’ high level of sugar, despite yoghurt being placed as a nutritious product in the mind of consumers.

Public Health England urged the food industry to cut sugar in various food product categories by 5% in the first year and 20% by 2020

Preliminary results show that dairy companies still lag behind these targets, although the yoghurts category did achieve a 6% reduction overall.