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Increased Demand for Sugar-Free Russell Stover Chocolate: A Call for Celebration and Concern

Written by
  Published on August 3rd, 2020
  Reading time: 2 minutes
  Last modified April 15th, 2021
sugar-free russell stover

Recently an article came out titled “Better-for-you, sugar-free entice consumers amid COVID-19from CandyIndustry.com. This article highlighted the explosion of sugar-free chocolate sales. Among the most popular sugar-free chocolates were Russell Stover, Lily’s Chocolate, and Hershey’s.

It’s no surprise that consumers are looking for better “healthy” chocolate options amid the current crisis. After all, the “COVID 15” is starting to pile on and individuals are sick and tired of being sick and tired. 

According to a Chicago based research firm IRI, the “sugar-free chocolate category has increased 16.6 percent to $169.7 million over the latest 52 weeks ending June 14, 2020.”  Typically sales during the summer months tend to go down (due to logistical challenges of shipping/melting) but some companies have been able to overcome this.  

One such company you certainly recognize is Russell Stover Candies Inc.  This group experienced a 15.9 percent increase in sales to $114.1 million (CandyIndustry.com).  


Why We Should be Concerned About Sugar-Free Russell Stover Chocolate and Others Like It?

While it’s exciting to hear that consumers are shopping for sugar-free alternatives, sadly Russell Stover isn’t the best option out there – that is unless you have some extra toilet paper stocked up.  In 2017, Russell Stover launched their sugar-free line “sweetened with stevia.”  Go to any grocery store and you will undoubtedly find them in the candy aisle next to several other “sugar-free” options.  

The concerning part is the ingredients and likely the metabolic and gastrointestinal impact these chocolates have.  A quick review of their ingredients shows some concerns:

Russell Stover Sugar-Free Almond Delight Candy

Total Carbs per serving: 19 grams

Total Fiber per serving: 1 gram

Total Sugar Alcohol per serving: 15 grams

While some sugar alcohols can be both keto-friendly AND easy on your stomach, not all of them are.  One of the biggest culprits is the sugar alcohol known as maltitol (and maltitol syrup). This is the primary sweetener used in Russell Stover sugar-free chocolate.  On top of that, they use polydextrose and artificial flavors.  Thus, it’s likely that one serving of these chocolates not only will have a glucose response but also leave your stomach in knots and running to the nearest bathroom. 

Why Should We be Excited About Sugar-Free Russell Stover Market Growth?

For one, this shows that the market is looking for sugar-free alternatives.  Individuals are clearly becoming more health-conscious, and specifically conscious about sugar intake. As demand continues to grow, more and more companies will see the benefits of formulating delicious, yet metabolically-safe products.  I look forward to seeing more companies launch sugar-free, keto chocolate and candy alternatives without using maltitol! Hopefully, we will see more of these products hitting the market with better-for-you sugar-alternatives like erythritol and allulose.  


What Do You Think About Russell Stover and Other Sugar-Free Chocolate?

Comment below and let us know your thoughts on the growth in the sugar-free candy market.


  1. Chantal zuazu says:

    It’s NOT sugar free. Very deceitful. It’s full of sugar alcohol.

    1. Hi, Chantal! We completely agree! Malitol is a sugar alcohol that can spike your glucose.

  2. Donna Smith says:

    I just found out I am diabetic and was excited about trying the Russell Stover. Boy, was I disappointed to hear about the effects on glucose

    1. Hi, Donna. Yep, we completely agree! It’s sad that they are marketed as sugar-free and safe for diabetics when in reality they aren’t!

    2. Iesha says:

      I’m diabetic and ate 2 of these and my blood sugar went up to 400! I had to take extra insulin to get it back down. It was scary

    3. Hi, Lesha. Wow, that is scary! Thanks for sharing your experience and helping to warn others!

    4. Sam says:

      They don’t have that effect on everyone. The best way to determine for yourself is to test before and 2 hours after eating them. A serving (2 pieces) does not cause my blood sugar to go up (I am also Type 2).

    5. Hi, Sam. You are completely right! Everyone is different; however, it is still concerning that brands like Russell Stover are marketing their product as being sweetened with stevia even though they still have sweeteners known to have a metabolic (and gastric) impact!

  3. Sharon Sharon says:

    Not near as good, and chocolate isn’t crunchy like regular with sugar. Here’s a novel idea. How about give your customers both choices, and let us decide for ourselves! I won’t buy the sugar-free, so Russell Stovers is losing business by not offering choices to their consumers.

    1. Hi, Sharon. They do still offer regular, non-sugar-free chocolate.

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