Philippine NewsPress Release

Brand & Business: Young Asian scientists & marketers innovate sweetener that’s ‘better than sugar’

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — What’s even better than sugar? Sugar sans its health drawbacks. Who knew, right?

This is what a group of young scientists and marketers from the Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam created with their up-and-coming start-up, Swiftlet Co., a brand that offers an all-natural sugar replacement that tastes exactly like refined sugar but isn’t.


“We wanted to get rid of the mindset that if a food is healthy, it has to taste bad,” said Dominic Plana, Swiftlet’s Head of Sales who is currently based in Manila.

The cross-cultural group came up with the idea at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. With all the weight gain complaints during the lockdown, Plana and his family friends had a lightbulb moment: why not create a sugar replacement where people can enjoy the taste of their food without sacrificing their health for it? And so the idea for Swiftlet’s all-natural sugar replacement was born.



The team boasts that even diabetic people can consume their zero-calorie natural sugar replacement blend as it has zero glycemic index, which will not raise blood sugar levels; it is also endorsed for having good digestive health effects as it contains prebiotics. Additionally, Swiftlet is all-natural as it doesn’t use any artificial flavors and preservatives.

Healthier alternatives to sugar such as stevia, honey, coco sugar, agave, and many others have. However, these options mostly serve as sweetener substitutes, not exactly aiming to mimic the qualities of refined sugar unlike Swiftlet that has a 1:1 ratio with that of refined sugar.


“The two main problems we saw when researching the sugar replacement space were either alternatives not tasting like sugar, e.g. stevia having a bitter aftertaste, or not measuring up in terms of cooking quantities, so consumers couldn’t use these as 1:1 replacements,” explained Swiftlet’s Chief Technology Officer Minh Le who is based in Hanoi.

A Filipino chef who tested Swiftlet’s sweetener in various dishes confirmed that it caramelizes and browns just like refined sugar when creating glaze for dessert. It even blends perfectly in dalgona coffee, a Korean frappé-style beverage that went viral in Asia at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. 


The sweetener replacement mimics the appearance and texture of white, refined sugar. It can be used in many kitchen ventures such as home cooking, baking, desserts, beverages, and others.

“Our technology allows us to blend in such a way that we can create synergies […] and a taste profile that, according to our sensory tests, matches the taste profile of refined sugar,” says Le.

The ingredients to Swiftlet’s sweetener are derived from non-GMO, all-natural plant-based, and agricultural produce. These ingredients are approved by various international regulatory authorities such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

The product is currently being retailed at PHP450 (US$8.98) for a 340g pack. The price is higher than regular sugar but this is because it is a healthier ingredient, explains Le. “We don’t hold sugar as a comparison point when pricing the product because that’s not the standard we are pursuing. You are not just eating it because of the taste but also because of the health concerns […],” Le says to The Ingredients Network from Hanoi.

“We look at it as an investment in health,” he adds.

Moving forward, the company’s long-term goal is to establish their own production plants across Asia. The team says they have many product ideas for the brand. They plan to eventually appoint distributors across the Southeast Asian region.

“We’re definitely looking at expanding our innovation lines — things like confectionery and beverages that are prime concern areas for sugar consumption and diabetes. We want to produce healthier Swiftlet versions of these,” says Le. 

The company is also looking at expanding the current sweetener they have and enter more mainstream retail platforms such as online stores and supermarkets to achieve ubiquity. The brand is also looking to expand to other countries in the future.

At the moment, Swiftlet is waiting for the patent on their formulation to be approved. 

For those in the Philippines, you may place your orders through their official Instagram accountEnjoy the taste of food without compromising your health for it!

Partner with adobo Magazine

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