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Hershey’s next acquisition bid? AlluLite Nutrition spearheads allulose-sweetened chocolate

By Douglas Yu

- Last updated on GMT

AlluLite is expected to enter US retail next year.  Pic: CN
AlluLite is expected to enter US retail next year. Pic: CN

Related tags Carbohydrate Nutrition Sugar

Allulose-sweetened chocolate startup Allulite Nutrition debuted its products at the FNCE (Food and Nutrition Conference & Expo) show recently in Chicago, and it hopes to become a $1bn brand in the next few years for Hershey to acquire.

Founder and CEO Gerry Morrison has been working in the confectionery industry for many years, particularly in the low-carb and sugar-free category. Prior to AlluLite Nutrition, he founded Carbolite Foods in 1999 that offered low-carb candies. The firm registered $85m annual sales with products available in Walmart, CVS and Target.

Pic: AlluLite

In the last seven years, Morrison also established Active D’Lites focusing on functional chocolate with probiotics, according to his LinkedIn. However, it was the advantages of allulose over other sweeteners, such as stevia, that made him set ambition on the new company.

Allulose is a ‘standalone sweetener’

Morrison found that allulose could be a chocolate sweetener four years ago, and he said there are only three major companies in the world that currently produce the ingredient: Matsutani (Japan), CJ (South Korea), and Tate & Lyle (UK with headquarters in Hoffman Estates, IL).

“There were three generations of sweeteners with first being sugar, second being aspartame and other intense sweeteners, and third being stevia. Allulose is the fourth generation, which is a standalone sweetener,”​ he said.

“One of the advantages is that we don’t have sugar alcohol [by using allulose], so we don’t have digestive distress that typically anyone on a low-carb diet would experience,”​ Morrison added. “Stevia is not a sweetener on its own because you have add a bulking agent to stevia, such as erythritol, because it (erythritol) causes the least digestive upset among all types of sugar alcohol.”

Unlike allulose, stevia cannot be browned or caramelized during baking without adding additional sugar, he said. “There are not many brands that have done products with allulose. Quest Nutrition is one of them, but they added significant amount of other sweeteners as well.”

Morrison said sourcing allulose can be expensive, and AlluLite has been pressuring those three ingredient companies to provide finished allulose products that are comparable to the erythritol prices.

How does it fit the FDA nutrition facts panel?

The FDA requires AlluLite to list allulose under the “added sugar”​ section on the nutrition facts panel, as it recently extended the compliance dates to Jan. 1, 2020 for big companies, and Jan. 1, 2021 for smaller ones.

However, Morrison believes there should be a separate position for allulose on the label.

“Allulose only has 0.2 calories per gram versus traditional sugar at four calories per gram, hence is zero calorie. Also, it has no glycemic effect compared to sugar which has a very high glycemic effect, so adding allulose to the added sugar line is very confusing to the customer looking for products that don’t raise blood sugar levels,”​ he explained.

If AlluLite’s discussion with the FDA on creating a single line for allulose eventually works out, Morrison said his chocolate products hope not to be labeled as “sugar-free”​ either.

“I would hope, through education, the consumer can be more familiar with allulose because ‘sugar-free’ has a lot of negative connotations, such as bad taste,”​ he said.

AlluLite will be available across all channels, including e-commerce, early next year. 

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