Diet Nutella anyone? Ferrero and DSM-Firmenich team up with ‘clean sugar’ brand
Diet Nutella and lo-calorie Kinder Eggs could be on the way to the UK after Ferrero started working with a ‘clean-label’ sugar solution that claims to be perfect for chocolate.
For the last two years the confectionery giant has been working with Incredo, which rebranded from DouxMatok today following a $30m round of investment.
“We have been working together for the past two years under a joint development agreement,” Incredo CEO Ari Melamud told Food Matters Live. “They’ve been testing our technology and we continue to make great progress on product development.“
A spokeswoman for Ferrero said: “Reformulation of these globally iconic recipes is not a straightforward option and we are always exploring new ways to develop innovative solutions.”
Incredo Sugar is already used by US-based Blommer, the largest B2B chocolate company in America, which produces chocolate as a raw material and sells it to Hershey’s, Mars and Mondelez. Incredo will now target Europe, starting with the UK, France, Italy, Turkey and Germany.
DSM-Firmenich has also invested in Incredo for the last couple of years through its DSM-Firmenich Venturing arm, but became a leading investor in the latest round. “DSM is a huge monster, a very respectable company,” said Melamud.
“They are impressed with our technology, they know the sugar reduction area very well as they have a joint venture with Cargill on Stevia. They definitely see our technology as probably the most promising solution for sugar reduction in the market.“
Melamud said existing sugar alternatives like Aspartame, Stevia and Saccharin have a “common problem, which is taste. They have a different sweetness profile to sugar, they have lingering flavours and an aftertaste, and it is identified immediately. If you have a brand with a recognisable taste you cannot significantly reduce sugar without changing the original taste of the product if you’re using them.
“We are the only company in the world that came into this arena with a completely different concept. Our product is 99.9% sugar cane, or sugar beet, but we add a 0.1% natural carrier that makes sugar more amorphous, so it dissolves faster in the mouth.
“When you take a bite of regular chocolate, which has around 50% sugar, only 20% or 30% of the sugar in that bite has time to reach your taste receptors. The rest doesn’t, it just goes into the body and turns into fat, which is a huge waste. But with Incredo, in those few seconds when you take a bite, more sugar reaches your taste receptors. So a manufacturer can significantly reduce the amount of sugar but keep the same level of sweetness, with the exact same taste. And just have sugar on the label.”
The rebrand comes as the WHO recently warned against using artificial sweeteners to lose weight. “They do not help in reducing weight, and in some cases are worse than sugar,” said Melamud. “This is something that we knew already, and it’s one of the reasons why we went into improving sugar, instead of replacing it with other solutions.“
Ferrero’s range of products includes Ferrero Rocher, Kinder Surprise, Kinder Bueno and Tic-Tacs. In the last few years it has acquired Thorntons, while CTH, a Belgian holding company related to the Ferrero Group, acquired Fox’s and Burton’s biscuits. A private company, Ferrero recently reported a consolidated turnover of €14bn, up 10.4% on the previous year.
Last December, Cadbury said it would release chocolate containing 75% less sugar and fat using plant-based fibres. It warned it may “take some time” for consumers to get used to the new taste.
Incredo’s latest round of funding was led by DSM-Firmenich Venturing and Sienna Venture Capital, along with strategic commercial partners like Ferrero, and new investors including Teseo Capital and existing investors Pitango and BlueRed Partners.