Is it possible to make sugar less... sugary? That's the feat one major food company is hoping to accomplish in an attempt to make their iconic sweets more appealing to an increasingly health-conscious consumer base.
On Wednesday, Nestlé—the culinary giant behind a number of iconic sweet brands including Kit-Kat, Dreyer's, and Nestlé Toll House—announced a major break-through in their mission to develop a better kind of sweetener. According to Dr. Stefan Catsicas, Nestlé's chief technology officer, the company has discovered a method of restructuring standard sugar that will enable their brands to achieve the same taste with lower amounts of the sweet stuff.
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While the company hasn't released any information on the process behind this restructuring, as they're currently pursuing a patent for the technology, Catsicas notes that the new form of sugar will pack the same flavor, but have less of an impact on the stomach. "It is sugar, but it is assembled differently so it can disassemble easily in your mouth with less going in your gastrointestinal tract," he says.
The corporation orginally intended to share the discovery after securing patents for the product, but decided to come out with the information earlier due to information leaks, The New York Times reports. The new form of sugar, which will be introduced into Nestlé products beginning in 2018, will be used to sweeten candies and other confections, but is unable to be stirred into coffee or included in sodas.
Although the specific makeup of the new form of sugar is still under wraps, Catsicas does reveal that the structure is slightly different from the average sucrose. While the new sugar will have the same exterior as sugars past, it will contain less of the sweetener internally on a granular level. This differentiation will allow the initial taste to remain the same, while ultimately sending less sugar to the stomach.
While Nestlé will intially only utilize the discovery for their own brands, it is likely they will begin to sell the product to other companies—a move which could revolutionize the confectionary market.
This technology could be key in increased industry efforts to recreate products that appeal to the more healthy shopper. "Reducing sugar is the holy grail of food companies these days," Nestlé notes. The question is will Nestlé's potential game-changer pass the taste test?