The science behind ‘30% less sugar’ chocolate

The ash-protein ratio, or the amount of salt and protein, is critical in achieving the best possible consistency in ‘30% less sugar’ chocolate. Valio’s researchers replaced sugar in chocolate by adding lactose free milk powder and created a ‘30% less sugar’ chocolate that was rated equal in taste and texture to regular chocolate. Study findings should encourage the confectionery industry to develop chocolate made with reduced sugar content using milk-based ingredients in which mineral content has been increased.

Valio’s researchers* were the first to document the importance of the correct ash-protein ratio in reduced sugar chocolate. This phenomenon has not been discovered in previous research, as the sugar reduction in previous studies has been achieved by using polyols or fibres. Valio achieved the 30% sugar reduction by replacing sugar by protein. Valio’s research findings were published in a peer reviewed article in The International Dairy Journal on February 7th 2020. The results are encouraging for manufacturers who seek easy-to-apply solutions for creating reduced sugar chocolate with the taste and mouthfeel of regular chocolate.

1. Create reduced sugar chocolate just as smooth and tasty as regular chocolate

The charm of chocolate is in its rich texture and taste, which is why a large consumer study was conducted as part of the research. Valio’s researchers found that chocolate made using Valio Eila® lactose free milk powder was rated equal in taste and texture to regular chocolate. When the sugar reduction is achieved by polyols or fibres, the chocolate can sometimes have a sandy or hard consistency. By using Valio ingredient, both were easily avoided.

Nutrition content of regular chocolate and chocolate made with less sugar and Eila® pro SMP ingredient

Content of chocolate Control -30% sugar and Eila® PRO SMP
Fat (%) 36 36.3
Protein (%) 7.8 19.5
Carbohydrate (%) 53.7 39.1
Sugar (%) 48.6 34
Total energy (kcal/100g) 570 561
Energy prot / Total energy (kcal/100g) 5.4 13.9

Consumer test data of chocolate made with standard sugar level (SMP) and with 30 % less sugar (Eila® PRO SMP)

2. Achieve the processability of traditional chocolate

For a smooth manufacturing process, the viscosity of the chocolate mass needs to be just right. Otherwise problems may arise when the mass is poured into moulds, for example. The chocolate produced during the research with Valio’s recipes had similar yield stress and viscosity to traditional chocolate. This means that transitioning to producing reduced sugar chocolate can be done easily with Valio’s ingredient.

Valio Eila® lactose free ingredients for the food and dairy industries
Innovations and R&D

3. Reduce sugar yet avoid laxative effects

Sugar in chocolate is commonly reduced by using either polyols, also known as sugar alcohols, or by adding fibre. While the ‘30% less sugar’ health claim can be achieved by both methods, there are also downsides to consider. Polyols can cause digestive discomfort if consumed in excess, and require a warning label about laxative effects to be placed on product packaging. With Valio’s solution, no such warning is necessary.

Valio webinar: Reduce sugar in chocolate with milk-based protein

Implementation of sugar taxes and the ongoing health and wellness trends have created a hot market for new and innovative products. Watch the latest insights on the use of milk-based protein in sugar reduction from the free webinar video.

Watch the webinar

4. Hit two trends with one solution

Sugar reduction is a hot topic for both consumers and manufacturers, as sugar reduction and the ill-effects of sugar gain increasing media attention. At Valio, we constantly receive inquiries about sugar reduction and lactose free milk powders, which are a simple to use replacement for sugar. High-protein and added protein products answer the still rising wellness trend, as consumers are looking for solutions that support an active and healthy lifestyle. Manufacturers who use milk powder to create reduced sugar chocolate can also get the “protein source” health claim, thanks to the protein in the ingredient.

Start production easily with Valio’s recipes – or develop your own

Valio has several recipes ready to try for clients who wish to begin manufacturing chocolate with a lower sugar content. These recipes make it easy to make test-runs with our ingredient, and most of our clients have had excellent results with them. For those manufacturers who wish to create their own recipes, Valio can offer the help of its experts for finding the optimal blend.

Learn more about the benefits of Valio Eila® PRO SMP in chocolate manufacturing

How to reduce sugar in chocolate

Active research fuels Valio’s innovations

Active research is at the core of Valio’s innovativeness and has been throughout the company’s history. The strong R&D heritage has resulted in a Nobel prize as well as hundreds of published research papers. Thanks to active research, Valio can bring new ingredients and ways of implementing them to help its customers gain new business and to support consumers in making healthy food choices.

*) Terhi Aaltonen, Elina Kytö, Sanna Ylisjunttila-Huusko, Marko Outinen