Nestlé Aims to Cut Sugar in Candy Products by 40%
Call it sugar lite.
Nestlé, the international food behemoth, announced on Wednesday that it had developed a type of sugar with markedly more sweetness, allowing the company to reduce the amount of sugar in its candy products.
“It is sugar, but it is assembled differently so it can disassemble easily in your mouth with less going into your gastrointestinal tract,” said Dr. Stefan Catsicas, the company’s chief technology officer.
Nestlé has declined to fully explain the process because the company is pursuing patents for it. But Catsicas compared a normal crystal of sugar to a shoe box, where the box is made of sugar and everything inside it is also made of sugar. The new sugar, he said, will be processed to have the same sugar exterior — though it may be a globe instead of a box — to dissolve in the mouth. Because less sugar is inside, less goes to the stomach.
Nestlé said the new sugar would be introduced in products starting in 2018, and that more details about it would be released next year.
If the new sugar lives up to its billing, it would represent a milestone in the food business’s never-ending quest for more healthful ways to sweeten products. Nestlé will initially use the product to reduce sugar in its confectionery lines by as much as 40 per cent, Catsicas said.
“Reducing sugar is the Holy Grail of food companies these days — but does it work?” said Marion Nestle, a professor in the department of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University.
Nestle, who has no connection to the company, said it was impossible to know how much promise the product has, particularly because candy — which the food business prefers to call “confections” — is not the biggest source of sugar in the diet. “That’s soda, and then what the Department of Agriculture calls grain-based desserts,” she said.
Catsicas said Nestlé would have preferred to make the announcement after receiving patents and trademark protection. But he said the news was already leaking, and the company wanted to tell its own story rather than allowing someone else to do so.
Nestlé might eventually sell its new sugar to other food companies for use in their products, Catsicas said. But he added that “it is not something that can be mixed into your coffee.” It also cannot be used to sweeten soda, the company said.
Nestlé, which, like many big food companies, is working to reduce the fat, salt and sugar in its products, previously developed a way to reduce fat in ice cream. Its “slow-churned” ice creams are processed in such a way that they require less fat.
“It’s all about thinking: How can I expose my sensory system to the taste I’m looking for, but with the minimum of that ingredient — and without replacing it with something else,” Catsicas said.