Photo: John Wernbom

The success story of Tweek – meet the founder Åsa Rosén

Tweek is a candy company that since the start in 2016 has taken the market by storm. The recipe for success consists of high-quality products with less sugar and fewer calories. But also of a great pinch of stubbornness and curiosity. In this feature article, we meet the founder Åsa Rosén.

20 November 2020 •

It was a long time ago since peo­ple wait­ed inside the old train sta­tion build­ing. The region­al trains still stop in the small com­mu­ni­ty on the Swedish coun­try­side, 65 kilo­me­tres south of Gothenburg. The sta­tion house is how­ev­er desert­ed. Right next to the sta­tion, a new trav­el cen­tre is emerg­ing with styl­ish bus shel­ters that cre­ate con­trasts with the brick facade of the sta­tion building.

We are in Veddige, a small and qui­et com­mu­ni­ty in the province of Halland. A stone’s throw from the train sta­tion is an indus­tri­al premise, where seam­stress­es used to work, in the past. In this day and age, we find the can­dy com­pa­ny Tweek on the premises.

Stubborn and curious

On site, we find Åsa Rosén – founder and entre­pre­neur. With a great deal of per­se­ver­ance and curios­i­ty, she has togeth­er with the expe­ri­enced can­dy-man Lennart Arvidsson cre­at­ed Tweek – Sweets with Benefits. Sweets with less sug­ar and few­er calo­ries, but with retained taste and mouthfeel.

Rich in experiences

Åsa is from Stockholm where she still has her base. She vis­its Veddige fre­quent­ly though. The dis­tance is quite far, near­ly 500 kilo­me­tres and it is not all high­way. But Åsa is used to trav­el­ling and hav­ing long dis­tances to work. Not least from the time when she was a singer and dancer.

She has also had a num­ber of years as an inte­ri­or design­er, includ­ing work for IKEA.

– As a free­lance inte­ri­or design­er, you also get to move around, says Åsa.

This was fol­lowed by a peri­od as a per­son­al train­er, and this is where the sto­ry of Tweek begins. The meet­ing with the clients did not only revolve around fit­ness, strength and squats. With the clients, Åsa could talk about food and diets. About what is nutri­tious and what you may have as a treat and indulge in.

– I had a lot of dis­cus­sions with my clients. It also remind­ed me of the men­tal­i­ty I wit­nessed from when I was a dancer, where there is a lot of body obses­sion, over­train­ing, and that you have to eat cor­rect­ly to keep up, says Åsa.

växel vid en järnväg
Veddige in novem­ber. Photo:John Wernbom

Started off with homemade caramel in the kitchen

Every now and then a region­al train pass­es by on the track which is just out­side the premise and which runs along­side a long river.

Åsa tells method­i­cal­ly about her per­son­al­i­ty and why we are now sit­ting here. She has always been curi­ous and stub­born. In the role of a per­son­al train­er and in the meet­ing with the clients, the idea of a health­i­er can­dy was born. For many, it would have stayed at the idea stage, but not for Åsa. She start­ed mak­ing caramel on a tri­al basis at home in the kitchen, in Stockholm.

For Åsa, the start­ing point was med­ical and per­son­al. She talks about an anx­ious stom­ach and a peri­od when she felt burned out. Åsa want­ed to make a prod­uct with alter­na­tive sweet­en­ing that she her­self would like to find on the shelves.

– I think it trig­gered a large net­work of thoughts that were fun­nelled down to: ‘What would hap­pen if I do this?’ In my fam­i­ly, we have always had a great inter­est in food and cook­ing and com­pos­ing dish­es, says Åsa.

‘There is a facility down on the west coast’

A splen­did idea doesn’t cre­ate a busi­ness on its own, how­ev­er. Not even a good prod­uct. How to pro­ceed to the next step?

– I am very hum­bled by the task of start­ing a busi­ness. You have to have a flow, a lit­tle luck and meet the right peo­ple along the way. There is an incred­i­ble amount of things that you don’t con­trol your­self, says Åsa.

Åsa reg­is­tered the com­pa­ny in 2015. At first, she worked with the help of a good friend and at the same time, the search for pro­duc­ers was ongoing.

– I got a rec­om­men­da­tion when I was look­ing for pro­duc­ers, and then the name Lennart Arvidsson came up. You should con­tact this guy. There is a facil­i­ty down on the west coast that is fair­ly old school and that can make small­er batch­es. says Åsa.

It was no coin­ci­dence that the name Lennart Arvidsson popped up. Lennart has exten­sive expe­ri­ence in the can­dy indus­try but also in sales. He start­ed his career as a sales­man and in the 80’s he was involved in start­ing the com­pa­ny Parrot, a brand known for its nat­ur­al sweets. For many years, he has held lead­ing roles in the can­dy indus­try, includ­ing as CEO and respon­si­ble for mar­ket­ing and sales.

Kolv med juice i från melon

A functioning whole

In the work with Tweek, Åsa has used her pre­vi­ous expe­ri­ences and knowl­edge. She has designed the logo, deter­mined the tonal­i­ty and uti­lized her cre­ative side. Åsa talks about her work in terms of con­cepts and bring­ing togeth­er dif­fer­ent parts into a func­tion­ing whole.

Developing a brand and at the same time com­ing up with com­mer­cial­ly viable prod­ucts has been an intense journey.

– In the begin­ning, I com­posed for the taste buds, but in this new con­stel­la­tion, there were pro­fes­sion­al prod­uct devel­op­ers and skilled peo­ple who could count on nutri­tion­al val­ues bet­ter than me, says Åsa.

Parallel to this, it has also been decid­ed what the prod­ucts should be and what claims could be made. Åsa has a hum­ble atti­tude and doesn’t view the Tweek prod­ucts as the world’s best at everything.

– The dri­ving force is to get an alter­na­tive that is bet­ter and it is a work that is for­ev­er ongo­ing, says Åsa.

To keep up with research and devel­op­ment, it is impor­tant to stay up to date on new find­ings and new inter­est­ing raw materials.

– A prod­uct is like a liv­ing organ­ism. When we devel­op this type of prod­uct, we will con­stant­ly need to adjust and add. The devel­op­ment of alter­na­tive sweet­en­ing solu­tions is very rapid. Right now the prod­uct looks like this, tomor­row it may look dif­fer­ent. We always want to pro­mote health. That is what is pri­ma­ry, says Åsa.

Common ground

Tweek uses ste­via, sug­ar alco­hols and fibres in its sweets. These are the same type of ingre­di­ents that are found in Bayn’s sweet­ened fibres.

Bayn is now help­ing Tweek with prod­uct devel­op­ment. Using the same type of ingre­di­ents has served as a com­mon plat­form and some­thing to start from.

– Both Bayn and Tweek have worked with these ingre­di­ents for sev­er­al years, but Bayn has cut­ting-edge exper­tise in this area. We both have an inter­est in these ingre­di­ents and how they can be devel­oped and applied to many dif­fer­ent prod­ucts, says Åsa.

For Tweek, sug­ar and calo­rie reduc­tion are the absolute pri­ma­ry. That’s where it all begins.

Can’t be everything

Åsa says that they would like to offer organ­ic, fair trade, and oth­er desir­able things, but that is often eas­i­er said than done. Some raw mate­ri­als are not even avail­able in organ­ic form.

For Tweek, sug­ar and calo­rie reduc­tion are the absolute pri­ma­ry. That’s where it all begins. Åsa says that it is dif­fi­cult today to gath­er around a com­mon idea of what is healthy.

– We live in a time where it’s not easy to answer the ques­tion of what is healthy. 20 years ago, it was com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent. Now we have dif­fer­ent ori­en­ta­tions that are almost like reli­gions – keto or LCHF or what­ev­er you may wor­ship, says Åsa.

A lot of research is con­duct­ed on the top­ic of diet and health, but it is also dif­fi­cult for both com­pa­nies and indi­vid­u­als to keep up with every­thing that is done and said. It is impor­tant to be hum­ble in the face of every­thing you don’t know, but also to be a lit­tle crit­i­cal and not jump on every trend out there, accord­ing to Åsa.

A con­crete exam­ple that illus­trates dif­fer­ent desires among con­sumers is the use of gelatin. Some cus­tomers want more gelatin to get more pro­tein, while veg­ans want to remove the gelatin.

– Earlier, it was per­haps more uni­form. Therefore, it is more dif­fi­cult today to say: ‘You know what, this is good’. We think this is a bet­ter alter­na­tive to tra­di­tion­al sweets, and those who agree are wel­come to try our prod­ucts. That is our atti­tude, says Åsa.

Åsa Rosén Tweek
Tweeks founder Åsa Rosén. Photo:John Wernbom

More than just candy

But behind the some­times dif­fer­ent wish­es and views of con­sumers, there is a great com­mit­ment to the com­pa­ny. Customers love Tweek, and Åsa receives dai­ly sug­ges­tions and inquiries from cus­tomers. Some want to be ambas­sadors for the brand and oth­ers sug­gest new prod­ucts with new flavours.

And some­times Tweek becomes more than just candy.

– They write to us that they have had a dif­fi­cult time in life and that they have now found a bal­ance, says Åsa.

People who for var­i­ous rea­sons have had dif­fi­cul­ties, for exam­ple, suf­fered from eat­ing dis­or­ders and had a com­plex rela­tion­ship with food, con­tact Tweek to share their sto­ry and show their appre­ci­a­tion. For these peo­ple, Tweek has become some­thing good they can have as a treat with­out feel­ing guilt or shame. The Weight Watchers is also a group that found Tweek early.

– We have received fan­tas­tic sto­ries from our cus­tomers. Sometimes a whole page long that ends with ‘Oh, your can­dy has saved me in this’. And it may sound banal in a way that a can­dy prod­uct can make such a dif­fer­ence, but we think it’s fan­tas­tic to get that response and we real­ly want to build that rela­tion­ship even stronger in the future with our Tweek com­mu­ni­ty in 2021, says Åsa.

Longing to meet the customers

As for many oth­ers, the pan­dem­ic has meant a break when it comes to phys­i­cal inter­ac­tion with the cus­tomers. Åsa looks for­ward to when every­thing returns to nor­mal and they can go out and meet peo­ple. Maybe offer­ing taste sam­ples on the streets and squares, spark debate and invite speakers.

But until then, it is impor­tant to build a strong online presence.

– We have a very broad tar­get group. Everything from sports asso­ci­a­tions that get in touch who want to sell our prod­ucts instead of pas­tries – to pen­sion­ers suf­fer­ing from dia­betes. So we have a wide fol­low­ing and that meet­ing takes place main­ly online nowa­days. There we want to con­tin­ue to build our com­mu­ni­ty – even though we are lim­it­ed by the pan­dem­ic that now char­ac­ter­izes our lives, says Åsa.

Smootie Chews Tweek–Godis

A bright future

Day becomes evening and out­side what was once a sewing fac­to­ry there is a peace that can only be found in a small community.

The future for Tweek looks bright. Customers love the brand and there is great opti­mism for the future. Now an excit­ing time awaits with new recruit­ments and devel­op­ment of new excit­ing prod­ucts. But also entry into export markets.

This report is not the last to be writ­ten about Tweek. That, we can be sure of.

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