SQU team comes up with chocolates made with natural alternatives to sugar

Wednesday 24/November/2021 21:53 PM
By: Times News Service
SQU team comes up with chocolates made with natural alternatives to sugar

Muscat: Phoenix Chocolate Bar is an Omani product made from several ingredients in addition to dates and Omani honey as an alternative to sugar.

Made by students of Sultan Qaboos University of the Department of Food Sciences and Nutrition, it is healthy for all ages and good for people who are sensitive to lactose and gluten as there is no added sugar in it.

Dr. Muhammad Al-Ruzaiqi, in-charge of sustainability of the food system and manufacturing, and the supervisor of the product says, “The Phoenix industry project has used raw materials available in Oman and beneficial to the local environment.”

He added, “The students took into account several scientific process while the manufacturing this product, including studying of consumer behaviour in the markets, identifying competing products, making a graphic analysis of the extent of the product’s success, determining the appropriate strategy in manufacturing and entering the markets, examining the final product both in the laboratory and in the markets, as well as identifying the launching strategy.”

Amna Al-Maimani, one of the students in charge of the project, says we decided to produce a new healthy product that suits all ages and is suitable for people who are allergic to lactose and gluten. It has no added sugar and is suitable for vegetarians. It contains Omani ingredients that are abundantly available. It is a healthy chocolate bar containing dates, Omani honey and hazelnuts.

The name is derived from the scientific name for the date or palm tree: Phoenix dactylifera.  They have worked to make this product with the developments of times, with the so-called (ready to eat foods).

The price of the product is reasonable and is competitive with similar products. The use of appropriate and attractive packaging can withstand different storage conditions, such as heat, moisture.

Al-Maimani said, “Many people showed interest in our product and gave us recommendations to develop the product to appear in the final and appropriate form, especially Dr Muhammad Al-Ruzaiki, who served as a link between us and these parties, some of which were linked to the university and some from outside the university.”

“From the parties that we presented the product idea to: the Innovation and Technology Transfer Center (ITTC), the Oman Makers Centre and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Muscat showed great interest in this product.”

Al-Maimani said the most important challenges faced while making this product was its production under the current circumstances (the coronavirus pandemic).

“We faced some difficulties, the most important of which are: the lack of some components, inability to accurately determine the validity period of the product and lack of  ability to accurately calculate the quantity of ingredients to be mentioned in the food label of the product because we are not able to do the laboratory analysis of the product. The prices of some ingredients are high, perhaps due to the scarce stock of these ingredients in the Sultanate. We need a direct link and partnership with one of the sweets makers in the Sultanate.”

The team are female students from Sultan Qaboos University, College of Agricultural and Marine Sciences - Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences:  Amna Al-Maimani, Sheikha Al-Naqbi, Anwar Al-Lahouri, Rahel Al-Waeli, under the supervision of Dr Muhammad Al-Ruzaiki.