Halo Top co-founder launches chocolate bar with Epogee’s fat replacement tech

Dive Brief:

  • Halo Top Ice Cream co-founder Doug Bouton has launched Gatsby Chocolate, a line of better-for-you chocolate bars made with Epogee’s EPG fat alternative ingredient. Epogee claims that its GMO-free, plant-based EPG can reduce up to 92% of calories from fat without affecting taste or eating experience. 

  • Gatsby’s chocolate bars, available in milk and dark chocolate styles, have less than half the calories of regular chocolate bars and roughly one-quarter of the sugar content, according to the company. The bars are launching at over 1,500 retail locations nationwide and are available online.

  • Consumers have eaten more chocolate during the pandemic, but also are making health and wellness a bigger priority. Fat replacement makers such as Epogee aim to help manufacturers respond to both trends.

Dive Insight:

The tension between increasing chocolate demand and consumers’ new focus on health and wellness has put confectionery companies in a pinch as they strive to offer products that can meet both needs. Epogee’s fat replacement tech is one potential way to formulate candy that is satisfying to eat but has a reduced caloric cost. 

Bouton has a history of rethinking indulgent foods and giving them a healthful spin. His low-calorie, high-protein and low-sugar ice cream brand, Halo Top, rapidly grew to become the top selling pint ice cream in the U.S., beating iconic brands like Ben & Jerry’s and Breyers. The light ice cream contains two natural sugar substitutes, stevia leaf extract and erythritol, that help bring its calorie content to 280 to 380 calories per pint. Its success is a testament to the power of consumers’ desire for healthier versions of their favorite foods and treats.

“Just like we did with ice cream, we’re reimagining and reinventing the chocolate bar with Gatsby Chocolate, creating a product for consumers that delivers on taste, texture, and health,” Bouton, CEO of Gatsby Chocolate, said in a statement. Its dark chocolate style almond bar has 70 calories and 5 grams of sugar per serving, and milk chocolate comes in at 60 calories and 4 grams of sugar, according to the company. Allulose and sugar are the sweeteners in both varieties.

Epogee’s EPG fat-replacement ingredient is derived from non-GMO rapeseed oil, which is then split into glycerin and fatty acid. A food-grade propoxyl link is added and the glycerin and fatty acid are relinked to create an ingredient that “looks, feels, tastes and cooks like fat,” according to Epogee. The way that the oil is restructured makes it so that virtually none of it is absorbed by the body, reducing the amount of calories ingested. It’s been approved for use in a variety of foods including baked goods, confectionery, frozen dairy and desserts. It is also gluten and allergen free, non-GMO and vegan, making it applicable to the broader better-for-you category.

Nick’s Ice Cream also uses EPG in its better-for-you, Swedish style ice creams and holds an exclusive agreement with Epogee that prevents competitors from formulating their products with it in the same way, according to the company. 

Some food manufacturers are targeting sugar as a way to improve the nutritional profile of chocolate. Hershey is making a big play for the better-for-you segment with low- and no-sugar versions of some of its classic candies.  Meanwhile, Israeli startup DouxMatok recently launched its first U.S. products featuring its Incredo Sugar, which is made from conventional sugar, but roughly 40% less of it is needed in product formulations to provide the same level of sweetness. This past April, its hazelnut and chocolate Incredo Spreads featuring Incredo Sugar debuted, with about half the sugar of competitors’ products, according to DouxMatok. 

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