Professor Jack Winkler, professor emeritus of nutritional policy at London Metropolitan University, claimed that the “big three” brands of chocolate were “afraid” to push their products low in or reduced in sugar for fear of have an impact on their established brands.
Its comments came after Nestlé admitted it was cutting its Milkybar Wowsomes product in the UK and Ireland due to “disappointing demand” for the low-sugar product it launched in 2018.
“The Milkybar Wowsomes were a good product,”Winkler told FoodNavigator, adding that their failure had nothing to do with taste. “The development team was successful in getting the sugar reduction and the great taste. “
Winkler conducted what he described as “raw” research, visiting 35 stores (made up of large supermarkets and small retailers) in North London. Therefore, he claimed that Nestle’s Wowsomes product, as well as the protein versions of Mars and Snickers and Cadbury Dairy Milk 30% Less Sugar from Mondelez, were not being promoted by the brands.
“The reason they don’t market them is that they’re absolutely scared to death,”he asserted. “They worry that saying “less sugar” too clearly will contaminate their main brands. “
“An important part of our portfolio”
The companies have told FoodNavigator, however, that they are committed to these products.
A spokesperson for Mars Wrigley UK said: “Our Mars and Snickers protein [launched in February last year] are an important part of our portfolio. Consumers love the great taste, the 10g of protein per bar and the reduced sugar content compared to our classic Mars and Snickers bars. Distribution levels are in line with expectations and continue to grow. We are committed to the future of our protein line, anticipate future launches, and expect the line to expand over time.
Mars “More Protein” contains 17.5g of sugar per bar, or 40% less than the original, while Snickers “More Protein” contains 14.1g per bar, or 30% less.
A Mondelez spokesperson said: “Cadbury Dairy Milk 30% Less Sugar launched with a strong start in July 2019 and we continue to support the product through a range of marketing activities. We are investing heavily in a nationwide advertising campaign to help educate consumers. This campaign was launched in January and will run until March.
“We are delighted to report above average repeat buy rates and that the bar is performing as expected. “
The spokesperson added that the developers have worked for two years to come up with a similar tasting product with 30% less sugar and no increase in calories.
“The new bar is still basically the same three basic ingredients of Cadbury Dairy Milk; cocoa, milk and sugar. And it doesn’t contain any artificial sweeteners, colors, or preservatives. Our team has successfully replaced the functionality of sugar in chocolate with fiber in a way that not only preserves the structure of the chocolate, but stays true to the unique texture and taste profile of Cadbury Dairy Milk.
Nestlé said it has “learned a lot” from the Wowsomes project and “worked on exciting new products”.
“We have learned a lot from this project and have developed even better, more versatile and affordable sugar reduction technology that will be introduced this year. We will also continue to gradually reduce sugar, replacing it with natural ingredients such as fiber, flour, dairy and cocoa powders. Since 2000, we have reduced the sugar content of our products by around 34% on average.
Nestlé’s latest 30% Reduced Sugar Chocolate, called MORE, features a Chunky Raspberry Hazelnut Kit Kat and an Oatmeal Apple Cinnamon Yorkie.
“The development teams have succeeded”
Winkler praised the taste of these reduced-sugar products.. “It’s a marketing story, not a technology story”he observed.
“They don’t buy their way to the shelves, so I can’t find them on the shelves. What we’re talking about here is the shyness of the marketing, not the technical issue of rephrasing, they just don’t put the marketing support behind these products.