Petaling Jaya (The Star/ANN) - Many consumers would love to go easy on their sugar intake, but they are often put off because products labelled "less sweet" are generally more expensive.
Not only do many products with less sugar cost more than the regular product, they are also not as easily available as their sugar-laden alternatives.
Checks revealed that beverages with less sugar are 10% to 15% more expensive than the regular version.
Retired administrative officer Teh Mae Ling said that although the price difference might be minimal, every sen saved mattered.
"My monthly food bill has doubled since I opted for healthier options," she noted.
Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca) secretary general Muhammad Sha'ani Abdullah said low-sugar products should not cost more than the regular ones.
"However, the price may be higher because the market for such products is still limited," he said.
Malaysia Milk Sdn Bhd senior product manager Nordina Baharum said these healthier products were more expensive as it required improved formulation and other ingredients to maintain their taste.
"It is not as simple as just taking away the sugar," said Nordina.
Yeo Hiap Seng (M) Bhd general marketing manager Vincent Chui agreed that it was more expensive to make products with less sugar.
"When you remove sugar, you need to add other ingredients to maintain the shelf life of the product and ensure it still tastes good. That will increase costs," said Chui.
Many of the company's products now come with less sugar, but Chui noted that it had absorbed some of the extra costs.
"If all Malaysians wake up one day and decide that they want less sugar in their drinks, I can't see why manufacturers cannot supply more of that option at a more affordable price," he said, adding that it was a case of supply and demand.