The company said it has replaced sugar in the chocolate with an all-natural sweetener solution consisting of dietary fibres, the polyol erythritol and stevia extract, and added that the formulation has been customised to suit the taste preferences of region Americas.
A spokesperson for Barry Callebaut told ConfectioneryNews.com that the main formulation challenge was finding the right ingredient blends to ensure equivalence in stability, texture and taste:
“We use the fibres and erythritol in a combination that optimizes the sweetness profile of stevia. Only adding stevia extract to chocolate would not work properly.”
Using this combination, it is possible to have a sugar reduction up to 90 per cent in the final product, he added.
Stevia, a South American plant in the sunflower family, has attracted massive interest in the last two years following FDA GRAS (generally recognised as safe) for high purity Reb A as a sweetener in the US in late 2008.
Last October saw Barry Callebaut announce the development of a stevia-based chocolate for Belgian confectioner Cavalier for a tablet product, saying the no sugar-added chocolate was based on a sweetener solution (1/1 replacement of sugar) and the Reb A extract from the stevia plant (Stevia Rebaudiana Bertoni).
Swiss confectionery maker, Villars, has released a stevia-based chocolate tablet product and Japanese companies have been manufacturing chocolate products containing the sweetener for many years.
Barry Callebaut said that it intends to target European manufacturers with a stevia-based chocolate ingredient once the regulation allows it.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published a positive safety opinion on all steviol glycosides extracts with a high purity, and approval is expected from the European Commission towards the end of 2011.