Recently an article came out titled “Better-for-you, sugar-free entice consumers amid COVID-19” from 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.
Dr. Ryan P. Lowery is the CEO of Ketogenic.com, author of The Ketogenic Bible, President of the Applied Science and Performance Institute and KetoPhD™. His mission is to spread awareness around the Ketogenic Lifestyle and its’ many benefits beyond body composition. He earned his BS and MS in exercise physiology and exercise and nutrition science from the University of Tampa and completed his doctorate work at Concordia University in Health and Human Performance with a focus on “The Effects of a Well-Formulated Ketogenic Diet and Exogenous Ketone Supplementation on Various Markers of Health and Body Composition in Healthy and Diseased Populations.” Over his career, Ryan has published over 150 papers, abstracts, and book chapters on human performance and sports nutrition and has dedicated his life to educating the masses. In his free time, Ryan enjoys spending time with his best friend, Scoot the Keto Pup, jet skiing, and traveling around the world. The way to his heart is through a good glass of wine and Keto desserts.