‘Filling a void’: paleo-keto market sweetens chocolate chips with erythritol and stevia

By Kristine Sherred contact

- Last updated on GMT

Explorado's mini chocolate chips consist of five ingredients: unsweetened chocolate, cocoa butter, erythritol, stevia and sunflower lecithin. Pic: Explorado Market
Explorado's mini chocolate chips consist of five ingredients: unsweetened chocolate, cocoa butter, erythritol, stevia and sunflower lecithin. Pic: Explorado Market

Related tags: keto, ketogenic, Chocolate, convenience channel, Paleo, diet, Stevia, sugar alternative

Colorado’s Explorado Market saw an opportunity to create a low-sugar, low-carb chocolate chip that consumers following a ketogenic diet could trust and use in multiple ways.

The mini chocolate chips clock in at 45 calories per serving, with 7g of carbs, 5g of fat and 5g of sugar alcohol – achieved through erythritol and stevia extract. The other three ingredients are unsweetened chocolate and cocoa butter, plus sunflower lecithin for texture.

Consumers following the keto diet are also attracted to the lack of soy lecithin, Rob Benson, co-founder of Explorado Market, told ConfectioneryNews.

A budding resource

Benson and his wife Kendra opened Explorado Market after five years of blogging about low-carb diets and one ‘terrible experience’ with a co-packer. The duo developed a chocolate nut butter under the brand name Fat Fit Go, which they now produce in their own commercial kitchen in Fort Collins, Colorado.

A third-party produces the chocolate chips under the Explorado name. In addition to being keto and paleo-friendly due to the lack of sugar, the chips are also free from soy, dairy and gluten.

Benson recognized that other low- or no-sugar chocolates have likewise entered the marketplace to satisfy growing consumer demand for low-sugar treats. He mentioned Lily’s, which uses stevia as a sweetener, and Enjoy Life, which uses cane sugar.

Benson saw an opening in the market for a keto chocolate that ‘melts really well’ and ‘taste like a dark chocolate morsel should.’

Chocolate's alt-sweeteners

ChocZero, a popular sugar-free brand, uses monk fruit extract, while ChocoPerfection combines erythritol with chicory root fiber.

The keto diet does not exclude chocolate but recommends unsweetened or chocolate made from at least 70% cocoa solids.

"One of the problems most people face when they switch to a new diet is that they eventually hate their food choices,"​ he said in a release. “They're too tempted to eat sugar (especially those on a Ketogenic diet). The result is sometimes failure. This is why we've created, clean treats with a low glycemic impact, perfect for those doing Keto."

Explorado Market sells a multitude of diet-friendly ‘treats’ online, categorized by diet (paleo, keto, Whole30, etc.) through its own shop or through Amazon. The overarching goal is to ‘make keto more accessible.’

The company quickly sold out of a pallet of chocolate chips sold through Amazon Prime, according to Benson. Customers are most commonly using the chips in pancakes, cookies and yogurt, he said.

“The target demographic is not someone that’s thinking, ‘I’m looking for the cheapest thing possible,’” ​but rather consumers looking to stay in ketosis while enjoying a treat.

A resealable 12oz bag runs for an RRP of $14.99, and a 10-pack of 1oz single servings costs $16.99. Ultimately, Explorado would like to hit a $1-per-ounce cost.

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