Sweet success: how Nestlé’s new chocolate bar tricks the taste buds

The confectionery company has created a technique that it says reduces sugar but does not impact on flavour.

27 March 2018

Inspired by candyfloss, scientists at Nestlé have created a technique that reduces sugar and tricks the taste buds. Intrigued? A new chocolate range using the innovation is already on the way to retailers.

The researchers have transformed the structure of sugar through a process that creates aerated, porous particles of sugar that dissolve more quickly in the mouth. This allows someone to perceive the same level of sweetness as before while consuming less sugar.

The new technology can help reduce sugar by up to 40% in confectionery such as chocolate, according to Nestlé.

Since the discovery, it has taken little over a year for Nestlé teams in Switzerland, the UK and the Czech Republic to take the technological breakthrough and turn it into a confectionery product.

So what is this new low-sugar treat? 

No artificial sweetening

The range is called Milkybar Wowsomes and has 30% less sugar than similar chocolate products, without the addition of artificial sweeteners, preservatives, colours or flavourings, according to Nestlé.

The UK and Ireland are the first markets in the world where the products will hit supermarket shelves in the next few weeks.

Milk is the number-one ingredient of the chocolate bars, though they also contain crispy oat cereal pieces for fibre. It is gluten free too.

The range has products in a number of different sizes, with the largest bars sitting at 18g and 95 calories. This comes in two variants: white chocolate and a combined milk and white chocolate.

While the technology is the most obvious new development for the brand, this is also the first time in Milkybar’s 81-year history that it has contained both milk and white chocolate in the same bar.

Faster dissolving sugar

But how does the technology work?

A mixture of sugar, milk powder and water is sprayed into warm air (spraying and drying the mixture in this way forms the porous structure). The milk stabilises the spray-dried sugar and stops it becoming too sticky.

Normal sugar comes in crystal form, which is solid and dissolves slowly. But the newly developed amorphous sugar dissolves faster in the mouth, meaning there is more sweetness from a given amount of sugar.

However, there are limitations. The structured sugar is only stable in dry products and would dissolve before someone could consume it if it was put in a beverage.

The sugar is being produced in Nestlé’s factory in Dalston in the UK.

Government pressure

Nestlé has taken out more than 60 billion calories and 2.6 billion teaspoons of sugar from across its food and drink portfolio in the last three years, said Stefano Agostini, CEO of Nestlé UK & Ireland.

“A new product like Milkybar Wowsomes introduces greater choice and allows parents to treat their children with chocolate that tastes great but has less sugar,” he said.

“We are demonstrating how we can, and will, contribute to a healthier future and that we take our public health responsibilities very seriously.”

Last year, Nestlé UK & Ireland pledged to reduce sugar across its confectionery portfolio by 10%, with a reduction of 7.4% already achieved, after the UK Government put pressure on food companies to cut the sugar in their products to help curb childhood obesity.

Public Health England last year set a voluntary target of a 20% decrease in sugar by 2020, including a 5% cut in the first 12 months, and is due to release a report on the progress food manufacturers have made towards the first-year targets.

Meanwhile, Nestlé plans to apply the sugar technology to other children’s chocolate brands in its range.

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