Life is Sweet…and Now A Little Sweeter

By Maria Pilar Clark
Starr Culinary Delights has teamed with SPI Polyols, Inc. to add a healthy twist to its line of decadent desserts. Together, they not only developed sugar-free alternatives, but they’re also expecting to see results that are even sweeter for their bottom lines.
Starr, an intermediate wholesale bakery based in Mississauga, Ont., produces a variety of fresh and frozen premium desserts for hotels and in-store bakeries in the Toronto area. Additionally, it distributes a line of frozen products to supermarket chains, mass merchandisers, warehouse clubs and other retail outlets throughout Canada and the United States. SPI Polyols, Inc., based in New Castle, Del., is a global manufacturer of specialty polyols, making it the largest supplier in the Americas, serving primary markets in the bakery, snack and confectionery industries.
Polyols are sugar-free sweeteners and carbohydrates that differ from sugar. Unlike high-potency sweeteners like aspartame, which are used in very small amounts, polyols are used in the same abundant quantity as sucrose. Chemically, polyols are considered polyhydric alcohols (sugar alcohols) because of their structure, which resembles that of sugar and is in part similar to alcohols. However, these sugar-free sweeteners are neither sugars nor alcohols. Polyols are derived from sugars, but the human body does not process them in the same way it does regular sugar.
Additionally, polyols provide various benefits and advantages to consumers, including a reduced amount of calories when compared to sugar and a reduced insulin response, which allows them to be labeled as a “sugar-free” and “no sugar added” ingredients that don’t promote tooth decay. Other characteristics include a pleasant, sweet flavor profile and the ability to hold moisture, allowing it to serve as a bulking agent and freeze point depressant.
Kelly Perera, president of Starr, plans to use SPI’s Maltisweet, a product containing Maltitol with a neutral flavor profile that blends easily into bakery applications, in the company’s top-selling cheesecakes and streusel-covered coffee cakes. In addition to producing sugar-free items, Maltisweet also gives Starr a chance to compete in the low-carb arena.
Perhaps more importantly, Perera adds, it allows the company to respond to consumer requests for healthier versions of its products.
“I have some U.S. brokers who have asked for it,” he says, “but also, when we do our sales calls, we want to promote it as a (new) item.”
Perera wants to target consumer trends, which have been centering rapidly on health in the media. While the low-carb craze has begun to fade from the diet forefront, he explains that health, in general, remains as a strong selling point.
“I think (health trends) are important and people are looking at those. Low-carb was hot for a while, but now I think it’s a little bit slowed down. People are going to be a little more conscious of what they’re going to be eating,” he says.
SPI, Perera adds, has partnered with Starr to develop a new line of items that meets both customers’ and consumers’ expectations.
“(SPI) has been very good to us,” he says. “They have showed us things — the research (being) the most important because they are strong in that area. They have (also) done nutrition for us.”
Life is sweet for Starr — and in working with SPI, it just got a little sweeter.