Developing a flavorful, low-calorie, Swedish-made lemonade is a difficult task in itself. Keeping it as natural as possible and avoiding obscure ingredients like "aroma" doesn't make it much easier. But we succeeded! After countless tastings, lots of discussions and more than one round of "how on earth are we going to fight the soft drink giants?", we've finally come up with something extraordinary. But how did we get there, and what happened along the way?
As many of you probably already know, we already have Swedish-made lemonade - Lemonad with the flavor of lemon(https://swedishtonic.com/produkt/lemonade-12-pack/) and Ruby Lemonad with the flavor of grapefruit and blood orange(https://swedishtonic.com/produkt/ruby-lemonade-12-pack/). It was obvious that these two would remain when we developed further into the sugar-free segment. But what new flavors would we add?
We looked at the flavors that were already available. Lemon is a really acidic variant while Grapefruit/Blood Orange is more fresh and floral. What we thought was missing was an option for those who don't like acidic drinks and a wildcard, something unexpected and exciting. After some testing, we found great alternatives - Raspberry Lime, sweet raspberry with fresh lime, and Jalapeno Lime, lime with a pinch of jalapeno!
To continue using high quality raw materials, without shortcuts such as aromas and to continue with Swedish-made lemonade, was a fact. So the composition of the products themselves was therefore relatively simple. When you work with quality, it can almost only be good, but despite this, we have still chosen to go the extra mile to reach new heights. One example is the Crisp Lemon flavor where we found an extract made from Sicilian lemon. In a fusion of real juices, from-the-named-source extracts and total transparency, you know exactly what you're getting when you drink our Swedish-made lemonade. Nothing is hidden behind a curtain, it's just really cool ingredients that we are more than happy to boast about.
However, there was one component that took many hours of R&D and lots of samples from suppliers to get right - the sugar replacement. So let's talk about it and why we chose to go without added sugar!
Why no added sugar?
Beverages, especially soft drinks and lemonades, are a typical category where relatively large amounts are consumed at any one time. Making this type of product sugar-free seemed like a no-brainer - this way everyone can enjoy the products without worrying about the impact on their health and blood sugar. "But aren't sugar-free products very artificial and just as harmful to health?" many people are probably thinking. Well, it depends!
There is a plethora of different sweeteners. Some of them are hugely artificial and cannot even be found in nature - a good example here is aspartame. Aspartame as a substance is synthesized from two amino acids via a production process and cannot be found anywhere in nature. Simply an invented substance that we humans are the creators of!
Others are actually quite similar to sugar in both their "naturalness" and process. The two we have chosen are Steviol glycosides and Erythritol.
- Steviol glycosides, a very sweet naturally occurring group of molecules, are extracted from the leaves of the stevia plant. Enzymatically produced steviol glycosides, which we use, are then obtained when this extract is processed using natural enzymes. These enzymes convert steviol glycosides, which before the enzymes are added are a range of different molecules with different tastes, into one of the sweeter and more palatable variants, Rebaudioside M.
- Erythritol is also found naturally in many different foods, including some fruits. Erythritol is produced from starchy foods such as corn. Enzymes break down the starch into glucose, which is then fermented with a special yeast to produce erythritol. When you think about it, this is similar to making beer! Only here you want to get a raw material instead of a drink.
Technically, all sweeteners are safe to consume, otherwise you wouldn't be able to buy products containing them. But what we at Swedish Tonic have seen is that the artificial ones are more and more linked to health risks and this is not something we want to expose our customers to. Therefore, we have chosen the two that according to many sources are considered most safe and natural. All in all, we have done our utmost to create as good and healthy a product as we can!
Anton Johansson - Head of R&D and production