Sweegen has expanded its footprint into China by formulating premium low-calorie chocolate for the brand TeChoco.

“Sweegen has demonstrated the near-impossible task of formulating low-calorie great-tasting confectionery chocolate products with low to no sugar,” said Shari Mahon, senior v.p., head of global innovation. “Now, consumers can enjoy premium chocolates with high-quality and health-conscious ingredients without the guilt and negative health benefits from sugar.”

In addition to innovating around interesting textures, desirable flavors, and attractive colors, the biggest challenge in formulating confectionery chocolate is bitterness. The higher percentage of cocoa in products is typically met with more bitterness and less sugar

“Taste modulation is an ideal option for product developers specializing in health and wellness confectionery chocolate to resolve the impression of bitter off-notes and controlling sweetness and lingering after-tastes,” Mahon said. “Texture can improve mouthfeel and help to elevate the indulgent appeal of chocolate.”

According to Mintel, more than half of Chinese consumers buy confectionery chocolate to treat themselves. Even though consumers in China seek to experience indulgence in their sweet snacks, they are mindful of maintaining a good weight, health and wellness. Sugar intake is anticipated to decrease as a health and wellness goal in the “Healthy China 2030” initiative, which is designed to reduce sugar consumption by at least 17 percent. Health problems linked to obesity and diabetes are of concern to government health officials because China consumes approximately 15 million tons of sugar annually.

TeChoco confectionery chocolate is available at more than 2,000 retail stores, both online and in brick-and-mortar shops, including powerhouse e-commerce giants TaoBao and DMall, and convenience stores Bianlifeng, and Japan’s Lawson for China. Lawson alone has more than 3,000 stores in China, which are found in and around five major cities.

“TeChoco is on the forefront of innovating better-for-you confections with higher levels of cacao content,” Mahon said. “They are a brand example of health and wellness products for sugar reduction in China, focusing on full solutions for using natural sweeteners in conjunction with taste modulation to drive consumer acceptance on products to mimic the indulgent products they prefer and desire.”

As TeChoco sales continue, the products hold promise for other Asia-Pacific countries, including Singapore and Malaysia, where Sweegen has its Signature Reb M stevia approval. Sweegen will establish an Asia-Pacific Innovation Studio in Singapore within the next 12 months, where brands can leverage local tastes and explore solutions to create delicious zero-sugar products.

Sweegen anticipates the approval of Reb M in China. With the arrival of a better-tasting natural sweetener, the company foresees the China market developing more products with reduced sugar and consumer-preferred tastes.