Sugar-Free and Just as Sweet With BENEO’s Isomalt


Sugar is vital for delivering the taste sensation and functionality that confectionery treats provide. However, many consumers are searching for healthier choices in the sweets category. Allowing oneself an occasional treat feels good and doing so guilt-free makes it even better. But cutting out sugar in indulgent categories only wins if taste and texture are not compromised and match a traditional treating experience.


Cutting Sugar – Maintaining Taste

As sugar is crucial for taste and texture, there is a range of technical and sensorial challenges that must be resolved to effectively reduce sugar and also to meet high consumer expectations. But thanks to the introduction of functional ingredients, sugar-reduced, no added sugar, and sugar-free products are all now making their presence more well-known in the global confectionery market.

In any product reformulation involving cutting out sugar or fat, the challenge is to maintain the same sweetness and mouthfeel that is given by the original ingredients. Consumers want a better nutritional profile, but they don’t want to make sacrifices when it comes to the overall indulgent experience. With healthy confectionery growing in importance, producers are looking to bulk sugar replacers that provide sweetness, such as Isomalt, provided by BENEO. Isomalt is the only sugar replacer derived from sugar beet. It has a rounded sweetness similar to sucrose – with only half the calories – as well as a very low-glycemic response, thus helping to keep blood sugar levels stable. Even better, Isomalt carries a health claim by the FDA for not promoting tooth decay.

BENEO; ©Africa Studio_shutterstock

Reducing Sugar in Chocolate

More than one in three consumers worldwide typically buy chocolate to improve their mood as well as satisfy the need for a sweet reward[i]. Thus, chocolate has become a target for sugar reduction. Choices are no longer limited. Chocolate treats can now be added to the list of healthier choices thanks to sugar replacers such as Isomalt. Isomalt reduces the calorie content of chocolate, while maintaining the indulgent taste and texture of chocolate treats. It has an additional benefit where it does not provide the undesirable cooling effect many other polyols give.   

Trials at the BENEO-Technology Center show that it is possible to combine indulgence with a sugar-reduced or sugar-free profile. By incorporating BENEO’s Isomalt, the sugar content of chocolate can be reduced significantly, while still conveying the same rich taste as the full-sugar equivalent. And its sugar-like texturizing properties give chocolate a nice natural snap.

Recipe: Sugar-free dark chocolate, with no added sugars

Ice Cream with Less Sugar

According to market research, 59% of U.S. customers snack on ice cream for sweet indulgence[ii]. By reducing total sugar content with Isomalt, consumers benefit from a healthier sweet treat. Nutrition labels and front-pack claims, like “reduced sugar” are a persuasive way for the industry to provide consumers with simple, honest messages and help them make more thoughtful dessert choices. By partially replacing sugar with Isomalt, BENEO aims to treat health-conscious consumers to a more balanced ice cream experience.

BENEO; ©tobi / 123rf

The BENEO-Technology Center has developed many recipes for ice cream and other dairy-based desserts with an enhanced nutrition label by easily incorporating Isomalt into the production process. In one recipe, the sugar content was reduced by 30%, allowing for more appealing front-pack messages.

Chewy Candies, Hard Candies, and Gum

BENEO’s Isomalt is the number one sugar replacer worldwide in hard candies due to its low hygroscopicity and is a preferred solution for gum and candy coatings. Its unique property to crystalize translucently makes it attractive to those producers looking to create brilliantly colored candies or gum coatings with innovative visual effects and without an uneven, mottled appearance. Isomalt allows for less heat and color to be used in coating applications, providing sustainability benefits. It also prevents hard candies and compressed mints from becoming sticky, so that even un-wrapped items can be packaged together, thus reducing piece packaging, another sustainable benefit provided by Isomalt. BENEO’s sugar replacer can also be used in a range of other confectionery applications, including providing technical benefits within chewing gum mass.


Innovations from the BENEO-Technology Center

Sugar reduction is a key mindset for consumers across the globe, however, sugar replacement is not a straightforward process. The BENEO-Technology Center brings together BENEO’s food application and technical expertise to encourage product innovation. Working in close collaboration with confectionery manufacturers ensures that reformulated products are as tasty and healthier than ever before. 

[i] Mintel: The future of chocolate-sugar-gum confectionery 2020

[ii] Innova Market Insights, 2017