Givaudan partners on gum targeting kids’ sugar cravings

Dive Brief:

  • Givaudan has partnered with Israeli food tech startup Sweet Victory to help it develop a chewing gum for children designed to stop sugar cravings. In a press release, Sweet Victory claims that chewing its gum makes sweet foods and beverages taste bland or sour for up to two hours.
  • Sweet Victory’s tutti frutti-flavored gum contains the active ingredient gymenma silvestre, an ayurvedic herb that blocks the sugar receptors on the tongue. Givaudan created a tutti-frutti flavor for the product to mask the bitterness of the herb. Sweet Victory expects to launch the product by late 2022.
  • The partnership highlights the latest effort by ingredient and food product developers to tackle the issue of high sugar intake among children without compromising taste.

Dive Insight:

As consumers ditch sugar in higher numbers, manufacturers are trying to find new ways to reduce sugar without sacrificing taste — an even more difficult task when creating foods for children, who are notoriously picky and primed to reject bitter flavors.

Since its founding in 2020, Israel-based Sweet Victory has aimed to use technology to curb consumers’ desire for sugar. Earlier this year, it launched a chewing gum targeted at adults that contains gymnema sylvestre in France, Israel and Panama, with plans to bring it to the U.S.

In a press release on the announcement, Sweet Victory co-founder Shimrit Lev explained how the botanical worked. “The atomic arrangement of bioactive gymnemic acid molecules is actually similar to that of glucose molecules,” Lev said. “These molecules fill the receptor locations on the taste buds and prevent activation by sugar molecules present in the food, thereby curbing the sugar craving.”

Sweet Victory said gymenma sylvestre is a child-safe herb that has been used for over 2000 years in ayurvedic medicine. Research from the University of Mumbai has found the Indian herb to have anti-diabetic properties.

Developing a product with a taste profile designed for kids was a months-long undertaking for Givaudan and Sweet Victory, the startup said. Sweet Victory’s gum for adults had a strong mint flavor. The startup said it chose a tutti-frutti flavor for the kids’ gum because it is among the top three popular flavors for children.

“The biggest challenge in developing this gum for kids was to create boldly fruit-flavored chewing gum to overcome the bitterness of the herb gymnema,” Lev said in the press release. Here, Givaudan provided the startup with guidance on the flavoring, Sweet Victory Co-founder Gitit Lahav said, as the two companies used the ingredients giant’s technologies to test the product.

“[Givaudan] helped us refine the product and develop a very flavorful, yet highly effective product — a sweet treat that can change eating behavior and help parents control their kids’ daily sugar consumption,” Lahav said.

In a trial conducted with children in Israel, the U.S. and France, children enjoyed the gum but were not able to eat sweet candy afterward because their sugar receptors were blocked, according to Sweet Victory.

The USDA recommends that anyone 2 years and older keep their intake of added sugars to less than 10% of their total daily calories; in a 2,000-calorie diet, this would equate to no more than 200 calories or about 12 teaspoons from added sugars. However, In 2017 to 2018, the average daily intake for children ages 2 to 19 years was 17 teaspoons. Studies have found that childhood sugar consumption can lead to metabolic syndrome, diabetes and heart disease.

While the sugar-blocking functionality of gymnema is one way to address how consumers taste sweetness, another path is by playing with the senses. A Dutch research group found that people have a limited ability to tell the difference between taste and aroma, so aromas might be used to enhance sweetness, and allow manufacturers to cut the sugar content of foods.