Engelholms Glass doesn’t compromise when it comes to sugar reduction

For decades Engelholms Glass has made ice cream without added sugar, but they couldn’t quite achieve the right texture. Eureba solved the problem. Now people with diabetes and others who want to avoid sugar, can enjoy ice cream that tastes as it should.

It’s 25 degrees in the shade and the sun is shining when we arrive in Ängelholm in Skåne. Perfect weather for an ice cream. At Engelholms Glass all four production lines are working at full speed from morning ’til night. The staff is nearly the double during the summer months enabling the traditional family business to keep up with its customers’ craving for ice cream.

Inside the factory a soft scent of vanilla wafts through the air, softening the otherwise strictly controlled factory environment. Every year 1.6 million litres of ice cream is manufactured here. During the summer about 50,000 ice cream lollies are cast and around 30,000 cones are filled every day. Together with litre tubs for supermarkets and scoop ice cream this means about 15-20 thousand litres of ice cream. In other words, things are awfully busy here at Engelholms Glass in the beginning of July.

– This year’s ice cream season has had a pretty good start. April was a good start but May, not quite as much. June, on the other hand, is going along quite well, says Calle Gudmundsson, CEO.

Run by the second and third generation

Calle Gudmundsson

Photo: Lars Wirtén

He has many years to compare with. Already during his school holidays in the 1960s, Calle worked at Engelholms Mejeriförening [dairy association], an ice cream maker since 1937. His father Gunnar was the dairy manager and in 1975 he convinced Calle to leave his profession as a chef and take up ice cream manufacturing the dairy instead.

Only a few years later Engelholms Mejeriförening fused with Helsingborgs Mjölkcentral [Central Dairy], and they decided to cancel the ice cream production in 1977. The Gudmundsson’s took a collective deep breath, went to the bank and put it all on ice, well, on ice cream that is.

– There’s a lot of ice cream talk at our family dinners, laughs Calle’s daughter Lisa Gudmundsson.

Natural ingredients

She is the quality manager and very much a part of the product development together with her brothers Patrik and Peter who are production managers. Aunt Cecilia, head of finance, keeps an eye on the numbers.

And Engelholms Glass is doing well. Ever since they started, the company has as far as possible used locally produced and natural ingredients, and cream as a basis for the ice cream. Small scale, natural and locally produced are today some of the most prominent consumer trends.

– As a small company, and with the ingredients we use, we can’t compete on price. But today people are prepared to pay for locally produced and natural ingredients, says Lisa Gudmundsson.

A clear health trend

Photo: Lars Wirtén

Another clear trend, Lisa Gudmundsson points out, is health, with focus on e.g. lactose free, vegan and sugar reduction.

– Whether it’s about your daily diet, soft drinks, ice cream or sweets, remains to be seen. Consumer demand dictates what we develop. Right now we’re planning the new products for 2020. So now we have to be attentive to what kinds of ice cream the consumers might want.

Engelholms Glass is well prepared. They have had alternatives to regular ice cream in their range for a long time. At first they used the sweetener aspartame. The ice cream tasted almost the same as their regular dairy ice cream.

But there were two problems. Aspartame is a controversial sweetener. When stevia got its EU approval they exchanged the aspartame for a sweetener based on stevia. However, you still couldn’t remove the glucose syrup that gave the ice cream its texture.

– Then we got the suggestion to try Eureba, which replaces the glucose syrup 1:1 with “sweetened fibres”. Where the sweetness in our case comes from stevia. We ended up with a product that was much better for people with diabetes than before, explains Lisa Gudmundsson.

Eureba lends the right texture

In 2011, when it was approved, Engelholms Glass switched aspartame for steviol glycosides, the sweet substance of the stevia plant.

– It seemed so good, when stevia came onto the market. But it gave the ice cream a sharp, metallic aftertaste with a hint of liquorice. We had to add other aromas, but it didn’t feel right, says Calle Gudmundsson.

Besides, the recipe still needed the glucose syrup.

But a couple of years ago they came into contact with Bayn, who presented Eureba – a stevia based ingredient that replaces sugar 1:1 and gives the same texture, with less than 0.01 grams of sugar per 100 grams of Eureba.

– Eureba is the best that we have found. Now we have a smooth product with a texture and mouthfeel as good as regular ice cream, and it enhances the flavours in a good way. We have achieved an optimal product for people with diabetes and for others who want to avoid sugar, explains Calle Gudmundsson

The customers like the taste

Engelholms Glass is now selling the stevia ice cream as the cup Vanilla and in 0.7-litre tubs for supermarkets in the flavours: pear, vanilla and strawberry with chocolate ripple.

Another advantage of Eureba is the simplicity. Engelholms Glass already had a tried and tested recipe.

– Thanks to the possibility to simply exchange the glucose syrup for Eureba we could skip the complex and time consuming work of developing a new recipe, says Lisa Gudmundsson.

Lisa and Calle are not the only ones who are happy with the result. The customers like it too.

– It’s a smaller target group, but the ice cream sells well. It’s made with a good recipe resulting in a nutritious product. This is important in for example the care of the elderly, where a good and nutritious diet is required, Lisa Gudmundsson points out.

A logistical puzzle

In the factory two litre tubs and cones, cups and lollies are continuously produced in different flavours and varieties. Sprinkles, chocolate drops and jams are added to give each kind its unique identity. It’s a logistical puzzle.

Engelholms Glass has 36 different flavours of scoop ice cream and 26 different pre-packed ice creams for kiosks. On top of that comes the supermarket range and all the private label production for other brands. The latter makes up 20-25% of the production.

– Yes, it can be a bit tricky to make it all come together. But we are flexible and have a passion for production. And of course we have a lot of experience, says Calle Gudmundsson with a little smile.

Text and photo: Lars Wirtén

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