Photo: Lars Wirtén

Engelholms Glass doesn’t compromise when it comes to sugar reduction

For decades Engelholms Glass has made ice cream without added sugar, but they couldn't quite achieve the right texture. Eureba solved the problem. Now people with diabetes and others who want to avoid sugar, can enjoy ice cream that tastes as it should.

27 June 2019 •

It’s 25 degrees in the shade and the sun is shin­ing when we arrive in Ängelholm in Skåne. Perfect weath­er for an ice cream. At Engelholms Glass all four pro­duc­tion lines are work­ing at full speed from morn­ing ‘til night. During the sum­mer months the work force is near­ly the dou­ble, enabling this tra­di­tion­al fam­i­ly busi­ness to keep up with their cus­tomers’ crav­ing for ice cream.

Inside the fac­to­ry a soft scent of vanil­la wafts through the air, soft­en­ing the oth­er­wise strict­ly con­trolled fac­to­ry envi­ron­ment. Every year 1.6 mil­lion litres of ice cream is man­u­fac­tured here. During the sum­mer about 50,000 ice cream lol­lies are cast, and around 30,000 cones are filled every day. Together with litre tubs for super­mar­kets and scoop ice cream this means about 15–20 thou­sand litres of ice cream. In oth­er words, things are awful­ly busy here at Engelholms Glass in the begin­ning of July.

– This year’s ice cream sea­son has had a pret­ty good start. April had a good start but May, not quite as much. June, on the oth­er hand, is going along quite nice­ly, says Calle Gudmundsson, CEO.

Run by the second and third generation

Calle Gudmunsson i Engelholmsglass kor­ri­dor­er. Foto: Lars Wirtén.

He has many years for com­par­i­son. Already dur­ing his school hol­i­days in the 1960s, Calle worked at Engelholms Mejeriförening [dairy asso­ci­a­tion], an ice cream mak­er found­ed in 1937. His father Gunnar was the dairy man­ag­er and in 1975 he con­vinced Calle to leave his pro­fes­sion as a chef and take up ice cream man­u­fac­tur­ing the dairy instead.

Only a few years lat­er Engelholms Mejeriförening fused with Helsingborgs Mjölkcentral [Central Dairy], and they decid­ed to can­cel the ice cream pro­duc­tion in 1977. The Gudmundsson’s took a col­lec­tive deep breath, went to the bank and put it all on ice, well, on ice cream that is.

– There’s a lot of ice cream talk at our fam­i­ly din­ners, laughs Calle’s daugh­ter Lisa Gudmundsson.

Natural ingredients

She is the qual­i­ty man­ag­er and very much a part of the prod­uct devel­op­ment togeth­er with her broth­ers Patrik and Peter, who are pro­duc­tion man­agers. Aunt Cecilia, head of finance, keeps an eye on the numbers.

And Engelholms Glass is doing well. Ever since they start­ed, the com­pa­ny has as far as pos­si­ble used local­ly pro­duced and nat­ur­al ingre­di­ents, and cream as a basis for the ice cream. Small scale, nat­ur­al and local­ly pro­duced are today some of the most promi­nent con­sumer trends.

– As a small com­pa­ny, and with the ingre­di­ents we use, we can’t com­pete on price. But today peo­ple are pre­pared to pay for local­ly pro­duced and nat­ur­al ingre­di­ents, says Lisa Gudmundsson.

A clear health trend

Lisa Gudmunsson. Photo: Lars Wirtén.

Another clear trend, Lisa Gudmundsson points out, is health, with focus on e.g. lac­tose free, veg­an and sug­ar reduction.

– Whether it regards your dai­ly diet, soft drinks, ice cream or sweets, remains to be seen. Consumer demand dic­tates what we devel­op. Right now we’re plan­ning the new prod­ucts for 2020. So now we have to be atten­tive to what kinds of ice cream the con­sumers might want.

Engelholms Glass is well pre­pared. They have had alter­na­tives to reg­u­lar ice cream in their range for a long time. At first they used the sweet­en­er aspar­tame. The ice cream then tast­ed almost the same as their reg­u­lar dairy ice cream.

But there were two prob­lems. Aspartame is a con­tro­ver­sial sweet­en­er. When ste­via got its EU approval they switched the aspar­tame to a sweet­en­er based on ste­via. However, you still could­n’t remove the glu­cose syrup that gave the ice cream its texture.

– Then we got the sug­ges­tion to try Eureba, which replaces the glu­cose syrup 1:1 with “sweet­ened fibres”. Where the sweet­ness in our case comes from ste­via. We end­ed up with a prod­uct that was much bet­ter for peo­ple with dia­betes than before, explains Lisa Gudmundsson.

Eureba lends the right texture

In 2011, when it was approved, Engelholms Glass switched aspar­tame for ste­vi­ol gly­co­sides, the sweet sub­stance of the ste­via plant.

– It all seemed so good, when ste­via came to the mar­ket. But it gave the ice cream a sharp, metal­lic after­taste with a hint of liquorice. We had to add oth­er aro­mas, but it did­n’t feel right, says Calle Gudmundsson.

Besides, the recipe still need­ed the glu­cose syrup.

But a cou­ple of years ago they came into con­tact with Bayn, who pre­sent­ed Eureba – a ste­via based ingre­di­ent that replaces sug­ar 1:1 and gives the same tex­ture, with less than 0.01 grams of sug­ar per 100 grams of Eureba.

– Eureba is the best that we have found. Now we have a smooth prod­uct with a tex­ture and mouth­feel as good as reg­u­lar ice cream, and it enhances the flavours in a good way. We have achieved an opti­mal prod­uct for peo­ple with dia­betes and for oth­ers who want to avoid sug­ar, explains Calle Gudmundsson

The customers like the taste

Engelholms Glass is now sell­ing the ste­via ice cream as the cup Vanilla and in 0.7‑litre tubs for super­mar­kets in the flavours: pear, vanil­la and straw­ber­ry with choco­late ripple.

Another advan­tage of Eureba is the sim­plic­i­ty. Engelholms Glass already had a tried and test­ed recipe.

– Thanks to the pos­si­bil­i­ty to sim­ply exchange the glu­cose syrup for Eureba we could skip the com­plex and time con­sum­ing work of devel­op­ing a new recipe, says Lisa Gudmundsson.

Lisa and Calle are not the only ones who are hap­py with the result. The cus­tomers like it too.

– It’s a small­er tar­get group, but the ice cream sells well. It’s made with a good recipe result­ing in a nutri­tious prod­uct. This is impor­tant in for exam­ple the care of the elder­ly, where a good and nutri­tious diet is required, Lisa Gudmundsson points out.

A logistical puzzle

In the fac­to­ry two litre tubs and cones, cups and lol­lies are con­tin­u­ous­ly pro­duced in dif­fer­ent flavours and vari­eties. Sprinkles, choco­late drops and jams are added to give each kind its unique iden­ti­ty. It’s a logis­ti­cal puzzle.

Engelholms Glass has 36 dif­fer­ent flavours of scoop ice cream and 26 dif­fer­ent pre-packed ice creams for kiosks. On top of that comes the super­mar­ket range and all the pri­vate label pro­duc­tion for oth­er brands. The lat­ter makes up 20–25% of the production.

– Yes, it can be a bit tricky to make it all come togeth­er. But we are flex­i­ble and have a pas­sion for pro­duc­tion. And of course we have a lot of expe­ri­ence, says Calle Gudmundsson with a lit­tle smile.

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