Features • 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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