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Kenyan startup Ofelos targets health-conscious consumers with sugar free cookies

Kenyan startup Ofelos targets health-conscious consumers with sugar free cookies

Kenyan start-up Ofelos has launched a new brand of cookies with ingredients that don’t cause a spike in blood sugar. The cookies feature a low Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load by replacing high carb flours like

wheat flour, often used in pastries, with low carb flours such as almond, hazelnut and coconut and uses Erythritol, the best-known sugar substitute that mimics the taste of sugar without a drastic aftertaste and contains almost no calories.

Other ingredients include cacao nibs that contain antioxidants to manage oxidative stress and Psyllium, a great source of fibre, that helps in metabolic control in type 2 diabetes.

Gerassimos Fourlanos, Founder, Ofelos Limited says, the cookies are targeted to consumers with diabetes or pre-diabetes, along with other medical conditions where blood sugar levels need to be monitored.

Fourlanos is a lawyer by profession, with a rich international experience in UN- and EU-funded projects in many different countries across Europe, Asia, and Africa. He is also a foodie and has been involved on several occasions in the establishment of restaurants in Cambodia, Thailand and Greece.

“As a foodie who is a diabetic, I faced the tremendous inconvenience of not finding any products, particularly, no treats, in the stores that could be consumed without giving rise to blood sugar spikes. There are several products in the shops labelled as "sugar free," but carefully reading the declaration of ingredients we find out that although these products contain no sugar, they do contain other carbohydrates with high glycaemic load and hig glycaemic index, such as wheat flour, maltodextrin, maltitol, fructose, agave syrup etc., which render the products in question unsuitable for a diabetic,” he explains.

He still remembers how a package of white crystalline stevia powder contained only 1 percent stevia and 99 percent maltodextrin, the glycaemic index of which is even higher than glucose.

More than ten years ago, Gerassimos started experimenting with cookies, breads, jams, and other stuff that would be made out of low glycaemic load and low glycaemic index ingredients, for his own consumption - but also offering to non-diabetic friends. Through trial and error, as well as improvements of other recipes he has now developed a range of products, which can be the basis of a commercial venture that addresses the needs of the diabetic community.

Ofelos Ltd sells for the moment three kinds of cookies (coconut & cacao nibs, cardamon, spicy sesame), to be found in several supermarket and health shops in Kenya, while several other cookies and other products will be launched in the near future.

“As consumers are becoming more interested in eating to benefit their health, our aim is to be a solution for consumers who have a difficult time enjoying snacks,” said Gerassimos Fourlanos, Founder, Ofelos Limited.

While this brand seems like a niche offering, there are millions who would benefit from a diabetes-friendly snack that is easy on blood sugar. Kenya was ranked by the International Diabetes Federation as the 31st African country in terms of diabetes with a prevalence of about 460 diabetic cases per 10,000 population.

In the African continent, 24 million adults (20-79) are living with diabetes in the IDF Africa Region in 2021. This figure is estimated to increase to 33 million by 2030 and 55 million by 2045.

Moreover, 52 million adults (20-79) in the IDF Africa Region have Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT) which places them at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This figure is estimated to reach 71 million by 2030 and 117 million by 2045. Interestingly, 13 million adults living with diabetes in the IDF Africa Region are undiagnosed - 54 percent of the total number of adults with diabetes in the region.

“Diabetes has been on the rise in Kenya due to demographic and social changes including urbanization, aging population, and adoption of unhealthy lifestyles. Our recipe only makes use of the finest pure and healthy ingredients. We are guided by our commitment to provide the best safe; keto -friendly treats to diabetics the world over,” Fourlanos noted.

Latest data indicates that Diabetes is responsible for 416,000 deaths in the Africa Region in 2021.1 in 8 live births in the Africa Region are affected by hyperglycemia in pregnancy. USD 13 billion was spent on healthcare for people with diabetes in 2021 - 1 percent of the total global expenditure on diabetes.

““We are dedicated to providing pure, keto diabetic-friendly treats to people suffering from diabetes. Our Bakery is located at Highway Mall, along Uhuru Highway in Nairobi. We have also established an e-commerce shop on Kenya’s number one online shopping platform, Jumia and Greenspoon. Our products are also stocked in several Healthy U stores, Diabetes Management and Medical Centre, Goodlife Pharmacy, and other retailers around the country,” he added.

Foods that help meet distinct consumer needs — especially when it comes to health and wellness — are becoming popular options for manufacturers. And this is a specific niche that not many manufacturers have met.



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