Prebiotic lolly: Funday on finding sugar-free sweet spot in Australia’s healthy confectionery market
The company currently has four SKUs, all of which contain no added sugar, no sugar-alcohol, and with 7g of prebiotic.
The prebiotic is a form of fibre derived from the chicory root fiber and tapioca starch (IMO).
These ingredients deliver on the prebiotic function aiding gut health, but also help with texture and sweetness of the lolly.
In Australia, any product above 7g of fiber per serving can make a claim as a rich source of fiber.
All four products have either a 4.5 or 5 star rating on the Health Star Rating System, which is the Government-backed rating printed on the front of supermarket packaging.
Funday’s sweets are available on its online store, health food stores in Melbourne and has recently launched into Chemist Warehouse stores nationwide.
The company was founded in 2020 by Daniel Kitay, who was driven by his unhealthy relationship with food as a child and a desire to bring healthier options to the masses.
“As a child growing up in the late 80s, there weren’t really any healthy snacking or confectionery options available in Australia,” Kitay told NutraIngredients-Asia.
In a bid to lose weight, the overweight teen sought to omit all added sugar from his diet, which primarily came from confectionery.
While there were sugar-free confectionery options available, most of these tend to contain sugar alcohols which can cause a laxative effect for some people if digested in large quantities.
“I’ve always been torn between eating sugary confectionary or sugar-free lollies, which are full of nasty sugar alcohols, and always give me an upset stomach,” he said.
Ultimately, he managed to lose weight, but in the process, never got a change to enjoy confectionery.
“I didn’t want to eliminate sweets forever. I wanted to make a product accessible for people like me who really wanted something healthy, but also something delicious.”
R&D for the products took a year, which was conducted in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Because the firm manufactures its lollies in Switzerland, the pandemic made the formulation process tricky.
“We had to ship weekly samples from Switzerland to Australia, and provide feedback on flavours, texture and overall sensory. This meant constantly refining the formulation by adjust stevia and flavouring levels.”
The COVID-19 pandemic and recent Suez Canal blockage incident also delayed shipments, with the firm resorting to air freighting out of Europe which was a costly process.
According to him, the better-for-you trend in confectionery has been around in the US for some time, but is yet to really catch-on in Australia.
“We don't see that many innovative new products in Australia because we don’t have the manufacturing capabilities or maybe we are too risk adverse,” he said.
“Our goal is to make really healthy confectionery accessible to everyone, without compromising on health.”
Funday hopes to expand its sales channels and has received some interest from international markets.
“The fact that it's 100% Australian owned, and made in Switzerland is a good proposition and appeals to many markets. Combined with our no sugar added, no sugar alcohol, prebiotic health benefits and that 2 of our SKUs are Australian vegan certified, it really ticks a lot of boxes for markets that are seeing the huge trend towards healthy snacking, functional foods, premiumization and convenience.”
The company also hopes to expand product portfolio in the future.
“It's a little bit early to determine what our next product would look like, but we are here to change the paradigm of confectionery from bad to functional, and we want to hear from the consumes, what they'd like to see from us.”