Nestlé, the Swiss confectionary giant, has announced that it has found a way to reduce the amount of sugar it uses in its chocolate products by as much as 40 percent. Famous for making KitKats, Aeros, Butterfingers and Smarties, the company hopes that by 2018 some decidedly “diet” versions will be on sale.
In a statement, its scientists claim to have made a scientific breakthrough that it is seeking to patent. The new sugar has an altered structure, which dissolves far more quickly. This apparently fools the taste buds into thinking something is sweeter than it actually is. Unlike diet soft drinks, the missing sugar will not be replaced with sweeteners.
“This truly groundbreaking research is inspired by nature and has the potential to reduce total sugar by up to 40 percent in our confectionery,” Stefan Catsicas, Nestlé Chief Technology Officer, declared. “Our scientists have discovered a completely new way to use a traditional, natural ingredient.”
The statement’s focus on “natural” processes fits in with the commitments Nestlé has recently made to reducing the sugar in its products while promoting its “wellness” (ugh) and health advocacy. In fairness, sugar is often cited by experts as the primary driver of upticks in those with obesity in the Western world, and any effort to cut this down is certainly commendable.
One average-sized Butterfinger, for example, contains 28 grams (about 1 ounce) of sugar. The daily added sugar limit recommended by the American Heart Association is 36 grams (1.3 ounces). With all the easily accessible sweets, treats, fast food and super-sugary coffee-like drinks out there, it’s not difficult to see why more than 1 in 3 Americans today are obese.
Some experts outside of the company are already excited. “This is good science. A lot of people have been looking at sugar trying to reduce the amount,” Professor Julian Cooper, chair of the Scientific Committee at the Institute of Food Science and Technology, told BBC News.
Little information on the specifics of the research have yet to be released, and the statement hints that details will be provided sometime in 2017. Sugar-lacking chocolate will be unleashed to the public a year later.
Of course, the ultimate success of this ambitious project depends entirely on the taste. If members of the public think that the original chocolate is superior in blind taste tests, then these potentially pioneering efforts might be doomed.
Watch this space!