Sweegen expands its series with Chinese launch of low-calorie chocolate for TeChoco

US-founded ingredient solutions business Sweegen has expanded its presence into China in formulating premium low-calorie confectionery chocolate for the brand TeChoco, reports Neill Barston.

The Californian food and drink company, which has a broad range of applications including for sweets and bakery ranges, has extended its portfolio, against a backdrop of increased global demand for health and wellbeing ranges.

“Sweegen has demonstrated the near-impossible task of formulating low-calorie great-tasting confectionery chocolate products with low to no sugar,” said SVP, Head of Global Innovation, Shari Mahon. “Now, consumers can enjoy premium chocolates with high-quality and health-conscious ingredients without the guilt and negative health benefits from sugar.”

Formulating chocolate confectionery products is complex. In addition to innovating around interesting textures, desirable flavors, and attractive colors, the biggest challenge in formulating confectionery chocolate is bitterness. The higher percentage of cocoa in products is typically met with more bitterness and less sugar, but healthier.

“Taste modulation is an ideal option for product developers specialising in health and wellness confectionery chocolate to resolve the impression of bitter off-notes and controlling sweetness and lingering after-tastes,” said Mahon. “Texture can improve mouthfeel and help to elevate the indulgent appeal of chocolate.”

According to Mintel, more than half of Chinese consumers buy confectionery chocolate to treat themselves. Even though consumers in China seek to experience indulgence in their sweet snacks, they are mindful of maintaining a good weight, health, and wellness. Sugar intake is anticipated to decrease as a health and wellness goal in the “Healthy China 2030” initiative is to reduce sugar consumption by at least 17 percent. Yet, health problems linked to obesity and diabetes are of concern to government health officials because China consumes approximately 15 million tons of sugar annually.

TeChoco confectionery chocolate sales are skyrocketing at more than 2000 retail stores, both online and in brick-and-mortar shops, including powerhouse e-commerce giants TaoBao and DMall, and convenience stores Bianlifeng, and Japan’s Lawson for China. Lawson alone has more than 3,000 stores in China, which are found in and around five major cities.

“TeChoco is on the forefront of innovating better-for-you confections with higher levels of cacao content,” said Mahon. “ They are a brand example of health and wellness products for sugar reduction in China, focusing on full solutions for using natural sweeteners in conjunction with taste modulation to drive consumer acceptance on products to mimic the indulgent products they prefer and desire.”

As TeChoco sales continue, the products are promising for other Asia-Pacific countries, including Singapore and Malaysia, where Sweegen has its Signature Reb M stevia approval. Sweegen will establish an Asia-Pacific Innovation Studio in Singapore within the next 12 months, where brands can leverage local tastes and explore solutions to create delicious zero-sugar products.

Sweegen anticipates the approval of Reb M in China. With the arrival of a better-tasting natural sweetener, the company foresees the China market to develop more products with reduced sugar and consumer-preferred tastes.

The company offers brands cost-effective and rapid innovation sugar reduction solutions. Its robust Taste Modulation portfolio is key for helping to block bitterness, boost the perception of sweetness, manage a lingering note, enhance mouthfeel, or reduce astringency in confectionery, beverage, dairy, savory, and bakery products.

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