FINLAND. Finnish food company Fazer is making a €40 million investment in sugar substitute xylitol by building a dedicated manufacturing facility.

Once operational, all xylitol used in the company’s manufacturing processes will come from the factory. Fazer currently sells some products that use xylitol in the travel retail channel, including Xylimax Moomin pastilles and chewing gum.

Fazer Group President and CEO Christoph Vitzthum: “[This is] an excellent example of an innovative circular economy solution.”

Fazer said the opening would strengthen its position as a “forerunner” in value added grain-based products and reflected a shift in consumer preference to healthier and more sustainable options.

The facility, in Lahti (about 100km northeast of Helsinki), will use oat hull as the raw material for producing xylitol. In Fazer’s oat milling process, a substantial amount of oat hulls are derived as a side stream. Oat hulls contain xylose which can be used to produce xylitol.

Growing importance: Xylimax Moomin pastilles are an example of a product that uses xylitol, and is currently sold in travel retail and other channels.

Industrial production of xylitol is a Finnish innovation and began in 1975. Xylitol is low in calories (containing 60% of calories of sugar) but is just as sweet, Fazer said. The sweetener has an approved European Food Safety Authority health claim.

“We have at hand an innovation where we combine patentable new technology, healthier options to consumers and an excellent example of an innovative circular economy solution,” said Fazer Group President and CEO Christoph Vitzthum.

“We believe that xylitol from a plant-based Nordic raw material with a Nordic origin will create interest also outside Finland and the Nordic countries, even globally. We plan to expand the xylitol production to our mill in Sweden, too. I’m proud of this example of the fearless creativity at Fazer, and we are excited about the new opportunities ahead of us.”

Fazer said the new factory would be the “first fully backward integrated xylitol manufacturing facility in the world capable of producing many forms of xylitol, supporting the market needs of the food, cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries”.

The company believes xylitol can replace refined white sugar and offers “excellent potential” for future product development.

Construction work at the new facility started in February 2019 and is expected to conclude in 2020.

Fazer confectionery is popular in travel retail locations, such as Helsinki Airport (pictured).

The oat hull xylitol factory will be a part of the Fazer Lifestyle Foods business area. The company said it saw sustainability as a constantly growing trend and noted that consumers are increasingly interested in plant-based solutions.

“Fazer is developing its business and product portfolio with special focus on growth and consumer trends,” it said. “Fazer’s aim is to transform into a modern sustainable food company. In line with the company strategy, Fazer targets further expansion in Northern Europe and beyond. The investment in Lahti supports this direction.”

Fazer was founded by Karl Fazer in 1891 in central Helsinki and is one of Finland’s largest food companies.

As well as being used in Xylimax Moomin pastilles and chewing gum, Fazer believes xylitol offers “excellent potential” for future product development.