New sugar-substitute will make your day sweeter

Brian Joss – Although there are many sugar-substitutes available new products for diabetics, especially sweeteners, don’t often appear in the marketplace. Which is why Sweetly, developed by Nomu, caught my eye.

Director of Nomu, Paul Raphaely, said the food and lifestyle product company was started 18 years ago and is run out of a small factory near Cape Town International Airport. It is a family-owned business and privately run. ”It grew from producing spices to stocks, baking kits, cocoa based themes and now most recently into sugar-substitution. It’s not a novel concept but we have a long track record of innovation in the sugarless category, anyway. Our Nomu Skinny Hot Chocolate is one, and as there is a global trend towards health products we decided to complete several potential new products in the sugarless arena,” Mr Raphaely said.  It was while they were developing these products they found Sweetly.  “When we had a finished formula that we were using at home and at work it became a ‘happy accident’ so we decided to introduce it to the market,” he said. “It was very hard to get the taste right.  We needed to make sure that Sweetly didn’t suffer from many of the traditional drawbacks of typical sweeteners,” Mr Raphaely said (Full disclosure: I am a diabetic and this plant-based derivative that looks and feels like granulated sugar doesn’t leave a bitter aftertaste. A 4.5 gm sachet is as sweet as a teaspoon of sugar). Mr Raphaely said Diabetes SA (DSA) has been wonderful to deal with and very supportive, “as are the Beth Din and the GI Foundation”. “We believe the ‘hoops’ are there for good reason and we don’t mind ticking those boxes. Getting the DSA stamp wasn’t hard. Much harder I think is maintaining the necessary sort of hygiene codes and accreditations that we are proud of. If you intend to be in the food business, where your product is ingested by your customer, you can’t take chances. Your product must do what it says and have the paperwork to prove it,” Mr Raphaely said.

Nomu’s cocoa and the vanillas are suitable for supplementing and flavouring a diabetic dietary plan and there is a move to roll out new products under the Sweetly brand “which are all diabetic-friendly”.

Diabetes SA said that only companies that are registered can submit an application and there is a cost. The products are tested by a SANAS approved laboratory and DSA’s nutritionists check the results and the labels to ensure they comply with regulations. The criteria are on the South African Diabetes treatment protocoal and uses strict guidelines for added sugar and where applicable, the glycaemic index (GI) to identify healthier options. It takes about a month to get a product to market and no company is allowed to use the DSA stamp unless they have entered a formal licensing agreement with the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the agent for DSA.

Sweetly is available online and at some supermarkets.

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