Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Sugar-Free Candy Companies Need A Wake-Up Call

A new report released today by a consumer market research company named Packaged Facts shows the impact livin' la vida low-carb has had on the candy market since 2000.

The improvements being made in artificial sweeteners in recent years has contributed to this increase in sales, the report states. Whereas poor-tasting products have traditionally dominated sugar-free candies in the past, the new products that have been sold to consumers recently offer a better choice of flavors, texture, and overall appearance which resonates with the diabetic and low-carb consumer.

From 2000 to 2004, the sales of sugar-free candies quadrupled while new reduced-sugar products introduced to the marketplace have tripled.

Many of these products, especially soft drinks, are sweetened with products such as saccharin (Sweet 'N Low), sucralose (Splenda), aspartame (Nutrasweet) and acesulfame-K (ACE-K). Others are sweetened with sugar alcohols like maltitol and lactitol which have been well-documented to cause gastric distress in many consumers.

People who are livin' la vida low-carb are well aware that they need to stay away from sugar alcohols, although it is almost impossible to avoid them altogether. Russell Stover exclusively uses maltitol in their low-carb and sugar-free products and have established themselves as the far and away leader in the diet candy market.

But they are going to have to make a hard decision very soon about the future of their products as people like myself cannot handle the side effects that come with maltitol. I LOVE what Russell Stover has to offer, but there are better sweeteners, such as erithrytol, which are just as effective and do not cause the problems that maltitol does. Maybe companies like Russell Stover need a wake-up call from people to realize they need to change sweeteners. Why not express your concerns to them directly?

Erythritol is currently found in Z-Carb chocolate bars and even in the one-carb version of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. The sooner companies realize that we need erithyritol in our sugar-free candies, the more successful their business will be over the long term.

But apparently that is not a concern to the big candy companies right now because business is booming. Is it going to take an overwhelming outcry from earnest low-carb and diabetic consumers to convince them that we want and need them to change their sweetener? This is the exact same dilemma that the soda companies had to contend with before finally giving us what we wanted this year.

Acquisitions Editor for Packaged Facts Don Montuori states the "low-carb craze revved up and perhaps overheated the [diet candy] market" over the past few years, but he believes it will long outlast any diet plan out there today.

He's got to be kidding. Is he so delusional to think that sugar-free products would be selling as well as they are right now if it wasn't for low-carb? He even admits the impact low-carb consumers have had on the market, but thinks it will be sustained without the help of low-sugar dieters. Yeeeeaaaaaaahhhhh. Riiiigggght. Take away low-carbers and your market is diabetics only, buddy. Try keeping up with your sales quotas then and we'll see how long you stay in business!

Montuori acknowledged the "positive consumer recognition" of Splenda as opposed to the tanking public opinion of Nutrasweet. But even products that carry the Splenda logo need to be carry examined to make sure they don't have those nasty sugar alcohols in them that I mentioned earlier. It's a little bait and switch tactic I've noticed companies like to implore. They blare on the front of the product "SWEETENED WITH SPLENDA," but then don't tell you the primary sweetener is maltitol. You don't notice it until you stomach starts getting knots in it several minutes after eating one of these innocent-looking products! BIG mistake!

Russell Stover owns 37 percent of the sales of diet candy, followed by Hershey at 14 percent, Atkins Nutritionals at 12 percent, and Kraft at 9 percent. Overall sales of diet candy in 2004 reached a mind-boggling $495 million! That's nowhere near the sales of sugar-filled candy, but the tremendous rate of growth of this market proves there is a strong consumer demand out there for quality candies for people watching their sugar intake.

One final thought: If you want a copy of this 100-page report on diet candy, it's gonna cost you almost $2000. At that price, it should be made of sugar-free chocolate! Read a page, eat a page, read a page, eat a page. Yummy! Just make sure it has erithyritol in it, okay? :-)


Blogger duncan_m said...

Gosh Jimmy,

What an array of freak-show chemicals you've summarised. How about just eating an apple or munching on a few berries rather than subjecting your body to that onslaught of foreign substances you seem so determined to ingest.

The fruit will be full of wondeful flavinoids, phytochemicals, lovely bio-celated vitamins, minerals and packed with anti-oxidants.. so in addition to getting a sweet fix you can also work on zapping some rogue free radicals or giving your immune system the substances it needs to kill off the cancer cells that everyone one of us is constantly fighting.

Everytime you open you mouth you have two choices, you can put something in to help yourself, or you can put some crap in it that your body is then forced to deal with.

6/29/2005 6:41 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Duncan_m, for a lot of people(95%), it cannot be done on fruit and berries alone. Thats why there are companies out there with " freak show chemicals" that are making these wonderful products that help people lose 180 lbs.
For the other hardline 5% like yourself, you can stick with your humdrum fruit & berries, but don't judge people that ingest foods with ingredients that have never been proven to cause free radicals or any other thing you stated.

6/29/2005 8:21 PM  
Blogger duncan_m said...

Humdrum!? Thats the problem, as a society we've ZAPPED our taste buds. Berries and apples HUMDRUM? They have wonderfully complex, rich and beautiful flavors.. especially when you compare them to some fake apple and blackcurrant chemically sweetened, chemically flavoured, chemically coloured, chemically preserved "lolly" thats wrapped in plastic and has potentially been sitting on a shelf for 3-6 months before you eat it.. it cant POSSIBLY be good for you, I dont care if hasnt been PROVEN to be bad, digesting all of that crap is an overhead your body doesnt need. I also have ZIP trust in our food regulators ensuring that its actually safe, bad studies get buried, good studies get promoted, medical professionals get "bought" and the whole disgusting crap-food econonmy steamrollers on.

6/29/2005 8:30 PM  
Blogger duncan_m said...


I heartily recommend a read of an article on Joel Furhman's site titled "The pleasure trap" that deals with the idea that our tastebuds have been overloaded with the sickly sweet, disgustingly salty, fat laden crap we eat and true health must necessarily involve a retraining of the taste buds .. so that once again you can appreciate the sweetness and deliciousness of berries and apples.. here's the link:

6/29/2005 8:44 PM  
Blogger Jeff Hamlin said...

I guess Jody Gorran changed his name.

6/30/2005 1:52 AM  
Blogger DietKing said...

Jeff, what do you mean?

6/30/2005 7:11 AM  
Blogger Regina Wilshire said...

For those who are not aware of their existence, CarbSense has a line of candy that has NO sugar alcohols.

Their website:

6/30/2005 10:36 AM  
Blogger Levi said...

I think Duncan has a really good point. Of course to each his own and everyone has a right to eat whatever you want. My personal approach is to eat stuff that is as natural as possible. Lots of whole foods, little or no processed foods. When I started low-carbing five years ago, Splenda was hard to find. But of course I was used to eating stuff sweetened with sugar or nutrasweet. I eating small portions of frozen mixed berries that I would thaw every day for their antioxidants. I decided to eat them plain but they tasted just sour and not at all sweet. But over a couple of months when I was not eating anything artificially or naturally sweetened, my tastebuds "downregulated" and I was able to detect the sweetness in foods that I never had before. Almonds are a good example. I never thought they were sweet, but they do have natural sugars in them like many foods, and I finally was able to tell when I stopped consuming stuff that was pumped up with sweeteners.

I still occasionally will have a taste of something like chocolate, but I rarely if ever will try low-carb candy. I simply don't need it. Deserts are delicious, but for me, it's much easier to stay on track by recognizing that some foods are just not healthy for me and I'd be better off avoiding them rather than constantly trying to find a faximile of that food to satiate some craving. I can always have a taste of the real thing on a special occasion, no need to eat it on a regular basis...

7/02/2005 11:39 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Levi, you are exactly right. I never realized how sweet almonds were until I quit sugar for several months. These nuts are REALLY sweet and delicious and I never knew it. I still love my Splenda-sweetened desserts, but your tastebuds are certainly enhanced when you are livin' la vida low-carb and give up sugar.

7/03/2005 10:28 PM  

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