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'Big guys' could explore low-glycemic sweetener for chocolate, says Beneo

By Oliver Nieburg contact

- Last updated on GMT

Sucrose and obesity: Chocolate industry may explore alternatives after sugar outcry in the media
Sucrose and obesity: Chocolate industry may explore alternatives after sugar outcry in the media

Related tags: Sugar, Carbohydrate, Nutrition

Ingredients supplier Beneo says obesity concerns may convince mainstream chocolate makers to swap sucrose for low-glycemic and tooth friendly sugar isomaltulose.

The company has been selling isomaltulose under trade name Palatinose for many years and though the sweetener is currently used by mainly by niche confectioners, Beneo feels the tide is changing.

Concerned parents

Thomas Schmidt, marketing manager for Beneo, told ConfectioneryNews: "We see a slow and cautious uptake, but we believe we can still talk about this for quite some time because the pressure [on sucrose] from the political side and from society is growing year by year…. parents are really concerned about the hyperactivity of children in that they are getting over-sugared."

He said the confectionery industry was under particular pressure to reduce sugar content and improve the nutritional profile of products because many items were aimed at children. 

Palatinose (isomaltulose) is a low caloric sweetener that is considered tooth friendly and has a low-glycemic index.

"It has the same caloric load but with a much gentler blood glucose response, so it does not put the same stress on your body,” ​said Schmidt. “Avoiding the insulin response also has an effect on the way your body is satiated and it has an effect on fat burning. We've consistently found that the fat burning rate increases after digestion of Palatinose - the body starts to burn its own fat when you use this carbohydrate."

Big price premium

Schmidt conceded major manufacturers may have been put off by the price. Palatinose is around four to five times more expensive than sucrose.

"There is still a significant price premium, but you have to weigh that against the many advantages you have,”​ said Schmidt. "If people had a choice to give their children chocolate that doesn't harm their teeth, they would be prepared to pay more for that."

Advantages over polyols

But why would a chocolate manufacturer not look to going 100% sugar free with sweeteners such as maltitol or stevia?

"The polyol-based formulations, they have their restrictions, especially when it comes to kids because kids tend to overcome, they tend to indulge, so it's much better to work with a carbohydrate that has absolutely no negative effect on tolerance and can be consumed like a regular sugar,”​ said Schmidt.

Maltitol is a polyol, which will produce a laxative effect if overconsumed. "With Palatinose being a sugar that is fully digested, you do not have any tolerance issues,”​ said Schmidt.

He added that Palatinose did not trigger an insulin counter response in the body. "In the long run it's a much healthier bulk sweetener,"

Schmidt continued that while stevia provided sweetness, it could not provide the bulk of sucrose in chocolate. By comparison, Palatinose provides around 50% of the sweetness of sucrose and 100% of the mass. To obtain the extra sweets, Schmidt said manufacturers could work with aromas already present in chocolate.

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