Nestlé finds new way to make chocolate sweet without adding sugar

Cocoa beans at the biggest chocolate factory in the world where Barry Callebaut is developing a chocolate that not only melts at 55°C, but is also low in calories. (Dominique Faget, AFP)
Cocoa beans at the biggest chocolate factory in the world where Barry Callebaut is developing a chocolate that not only melts at 55°C, but is also low in calories. (Dominique Faget, AFP)

Nestlé SA has found a way to create chocolate without adding any sugar, relying on leftover material from cocoa plants for sweetening as consumers look for natural and healthier fare. The food company is using a patented technique to turn the white pulp that covers cocoa beans into a powder that naturally contains sugar.

This fall in Japan, Nestlé will start selling KitKat bars with 70% dark chocolate under the new recipe, which doesn’t include any added sugar, the Vevey, Switzerland-based firm said. Until now, the pulp has never been used as a sweetener for chocolate, and usually it’s mostly thrown out. 

Nestlé could use the same process to make milk or white chocolate in the future, Alexander von Maillot, head of Nestlé’s confectionery business, said in a phone interview.

The food and beverage industry is under pressure from consumers and governments alike to make healthier products amid rising obesity and diabetes rates. Nestlé’s move may bolster its position as a leader in the industry, and it comes three years after finding a way to alter the structure of sugar to boost its sweetening power.

The world’s largest food company plans to use the pulp technique for other confectionery brands in additional countries next year.

"Using pulp makes it a more premium chocolate," Von Maillot said. "Sugar is a cheap ingredient."

Nestlé’s new 70% dark chocolate will have as much as 40% less sugar than most equivalent bars with added sugar. Nestlé’s existing dark chocolate KitKats have 12.3 grams of sugar per serving.

"The sugar reduction is incidental, not a focus," Von Maillot said. "It’s more about a novel way to produce chocolate and use the best of the cocoa pod."

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