Business development • There are tough requirements to market something as sugar-free. But Switsbake’s sugar-free vanilla muffins meet those requirements thanks to EUREBA®. In this interview, Swissbakes’ marketing manager talks about his experience with Eureba and plans for the future.
Switsbake is a Swedish bakery producing tons of sponge cakes for food service and grocery stores. In a short time, they have managed to create a sugar-free sales success. Their sugar-free vanilla muffins are the 16th best-selling sponge cake of all those available on the Swedish market in 2022.
– Anyone who produces any kind of sponge cake is on the list. So it’s great to be so high up, says Magnus Jacobson, marketing manager at Switsbake.
Sugar-free for real
Sugar-free means less than 500 milligrams of sugar per 100 grams of muffins. And then we’re not just talking about added sugars, but all sugars, including those naturally present in the ingredients. It’s impressive to produce such a muffin and doubly impressive to have it become a sales success.
– It shows a broad demand for cakes with less or no sugar. Many people want something sweet with their coffee without consuming unnecessary sugar.
The buyers are not who you might think
You might think that the most extensive customer segment is those with diabetes or a keen interest in their health. But no!
– Muffins are baked on wheat flour which provides quick carbohydrates, and that’s something people with diabetes should avoid. So they’re not big buyers. And neither are those with a great interest in their health.
So who buys Hägges sugar-free muffins?
– Our sugar-free muffins have reached a broad group, but we’ve had an outstanding response from families with children. They have really embraced them. We know from social media, emails and such that many people choose to give this option to their children because the parents are concerned that their children are getting too much sugar in their diet.
‘Baker at the drawing board’
Magnus Jacobson has a solid background in the food industry. He has worked in the beverage industry for Coca-Cola and Falcon beer brewery and was product manager for fast food bread, pastry and cakes at Lantmännen Unibake, one of Europe’s largest bakery groups with 36 bakeries in 21 countries.
He has worked as a marketing manager at Switsbake for almost a decade. The role of marketing manager naturally includes sales and product development!
– I am a baker at the drawing board, says Magnus Jacobson and laughs. I come up with ideas, but our product developer, Krister Levin, turns them into reality. He’s an excellent baker, pastry chef and food technician.
Trying it out
It is Krister Levin who has developed Hägges sugar-free vanilla muffins. His goal was to reduce the total amount of mono- and disaccharides to less than 500 milligrams per 100 grams of muffins without compromising the look, quality or taste. That’s what it takes to create a product that consumers want, and that can be marketed as sugar-free.
– It has taken a lot of trial and error and time, says Magnus Jacobson.
He explains that Switsbake has tried various solutions to replace the sweetness of regular sugar but has not been satisfied until now. So what’s the difference?
– Eureba, answers Magnus Jacobson.
Eureba replaced the sugar
Replacing the sweetness of sugar is the least of the problems of sugar reduction. This can be done with a wide range of calorie-free sweeteners, both those produced artificially and those of natural origin. The challenge is to replace the volume and weight of the sugar, get the same mouthfeel and avoid problems with microdosing and handling.
The solution is sweetened fibres, which replaces sugar 1:1. It is dietary fibres that have been sweetened by binding sugar alcohol to each fibre and, in most cases, also a high-intensity sweetener (for example steviol glycosides which are extracted from the plant stevia). The trick is to shape the grains with just the right balance of ingredients to make it taste as sweet and give the same mouthfeel as regular sugar. The result is a powder or granules that are completely homogeneous. It does not layer during transport or handling and does not distribute unevenly during production.
Sweetened fibres are sold under the trademark EUREBA®. There are different variants for different applications. The one Magnus Jacobson is referring to has the prosaic name B-02.
Switsbake’s experience with Eureba
– We have tested a few different solutions, but we think Eureba B-02 is the one that has definitely worked best – taste-wise and property-wise. We think we get a very, very good quality product. It doesn’t have a different shelf life or anything different from our other products. It has a look, quality and taste that attracts consumers. We think we’ve done incredibly well with this product.
Is Eureba delivering on its promise to replace sugar 1:1?
– Yes, I think so.
How does Eureba work in your production?
– Eureba is very easy to handle in production. It’s like any other ingredient you put in the batter.
What do you think are the main advantages of Eureba?
– We don’t have to deal with a lot of small components and mixing ourselves and so on. There is a simplicity to production in the handling itself.
The elephant in the room
Switsbake uses the Eureba B-02, which is designed for baking. The sweetness comes from the sugar alcohol maltitol. Steviol glycosides cannot be used because they do not resist heat. Bulk and texture come mainly from dextrin and some polydextrose which are both dietary fibres.
Many consumers avoid products with numerous chemical-sounding names in the ingredients list. Has there been any reaction to including these substances in the list of ingredients?
– No, nothing, says Magnus Jacobson. We haven’t received any complaints about the contents, the declaration of ingredients or anything like that.
The future of Eureba in Switsbake products
Will you use Eureba in more products?
– We are already using B-02 in a cookie-dough inclusion (put in ice cream) with successful results, Magnus Jacobson answers. Now we are looking at other types of products where we can use Eureba. For example, larger sponge cakes.
Switsbake has started with your own consumer brand Hägges. Will you also use Eureba in your foodservice products?
– Yes, we are also looking at foodservice products. We started with Hägges to get quick feedback from end consumers. It takes less than a week from launch before we are available in all of Sweden’s grocery stores. This is highly positive, says Magnus Jacobson.
He also reports great interest from corporate customers:
– The big food chains want food producers to reduce sugar in products. And we are leading the way. This has led to a lot of inquiries from other companies. And also to requests for the production of private-label products. Obviously, we will take care of that and deliver on it.
It’s a sign of the times that Switsbake – a company that made its name as a producer of meringues and now bakes tons of sponge cakes – is leading the way. More and more people are demanding products with less sugar, and there is a growing market for sugar-free or reduced-sugar products.
– We see a big market and a significant demand; since we launched this product, we have made giant leaps that we have not made in previous attempts. I would like to see a broader development of this type of product. It would benefit health. And I would like the bakery industry, which is very much associated with sweetness, to take the lead, concludes Magnus Jacobson.
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