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Welcome to our Lakanto review!
What started with the creation of Japan’s first hand sanitizer seven decades ago has turned into a top-rated brand of monk fruit sweeteners and low-carb snacks, baking mixes, and desserts.
Lakanto has numerous impressive qualities, including their commitment to ingredient quality and sourcing the monk fruit from the same region where it was originally discovered, plus their proprietary method that allows the monk fruit to bind to erythritol and create the perfect texture and taste.
With a rising popularity in the keto and low-carb spaces, monk fruit is an ideal non-glycemic sweetener for people with diabetes or anyone looking to reduce their sugar intake without compromising on taste.
Let’s dive into the sweet history of Lakanto and the reasons behind why they earned an overall A rating from our team.
Lakanto Pros and Cons
- Great tasting and high-quality ingredients
- Innovative products
- High transparency about manufacturing processes
- Sustainable production practices
- Robust product and educational information
- On the expensive side
- Not many certifications
- Only 1 of 3 customer service responses were prompt
Lakanto’s Sweet Journey to Sugar-Free Success
Nestled deep in the Karst Mountains of Southern China lies a scenic town called Guilin, where the rich history of monk fruit was born.
Over a thousand years ago, a group of Buddhist monks in this region discovered a unique fruit that increased their “chi” and well-being, nicknaming it “The Immortal Fruit” and giving us the “monk” in its name today.
Although the monk fruit that Lakanto is known for was discovered centuries ago by the Luohan monks of China, the modern-day tale starts with a man named Shota Saraya.
Beginning in the 1950s, Mr. Saraya took on the challenge of improving sanitation in Japan after World War II by creating the country’s first hand sanitizer, as well as other personal care products like laundry detergents and lotions.
Decades later, Mr. Saraya developed diabetes that was not improving, leading him to create a one-to-one sugar replacement we know now as Lakanto.
But it wasn’t an easy road—it took three years and collaboration with Dr. Yuji Murata to make the first monk fruit sweetener, and 36 years to develop the product seen on their (virtual) shelves today.
Mr. Saraya made it his mission to make products that were better for people and the environment—including the native area where monk fruit is grown in Guilin.
He decided to share his discoveries about monk fruit so that the benefits could be accessed worldwide, but he kept the harvesting and manufacturing processes local to support the economy in Guilin, using the same pesticide-free and traditional farming methods as centuries past.
Now, it’s safe to say that the three-plus decades of perfecting the taste and texture has pushed Lakanto to the front of the pack of monk fruit sweeteners—in fact, they would say they invented it and everyone else is just copying them.
And their confidence is well-founded, as the tasty products that Lakanto produces are changing the game when it comes to living sugar-free.
Our Lakanto Review
We try to leave no stone unturned when it comes to evaluating a brand, with rankings from the following six categories playing a role.
Here you’ll find Lakanto’s category scores, which earned them an overall A ranking.
- Quality (A)
- Transparency (A)
- Website Experience (A)
- Customer Service (B)
- Value (A-)
- Brand Value (A+)
Let’s dive into the breakdown of how Lakanto earned an A, beginning with the crucial issue of quality.
The annual hand-picking of monk fruit in rural China, close relationships with farmers, and a decades-long process of perfecting the bonding process of monk fruit and erythritol earned Lakanto an A.
Lakanto earned an overall A in the quality category, which takes into account factors like:
- Packaging and labeling
- Quality, sourcing, formulation, and manufacturing of ingredients
Our team received a wide array of Lakanto products, including:
- Sugar-free Simple Syrup
- Sugar-free Maple Syrup
- Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
- Sugar-Free Brownie Mix
- Lemon Poppyseed Muffin Mix
All products were safely wrapped in brown paper—no plastic or bubble wrap—and had durable yet easy-to-open packaging.
What’s inside the package is also high quality, with clean and minimal ingredients in each Lakanto product.
They do use a few additives in some items, including cultured dextrose—a fermented sugar that inhibits mold and bacteria growth but does not impact blood sugar—and natural flavors like licorice, vanilla, and citrus.
While the quality of ingredients is high, we did dock some points for a lack of certifications on all products.
Lakanto does have the non-GMO verified seal on most products—if it’s not on the package, that means it’s still going through the verification process.
And while their products are gluten-free, they don’t carry the Certified Gluten-Free seal.
They also do not use pesticides in their monk fruit sweetener production process but are not pursuing official organic certifications.
Where Lakanto gets high marks is in their sourcing and manufacturing processes.
They work closely with the growers in Guilin to ensure the conditions meet Lakanto’s high standards, which includes the hand-picking of monk fruit from the side of a mountain that only happens once a year.
Instead of pesticides, the farmers use natural pest control like bottle traps that use honey and sanitizer to trap bugs—and their end product is checked for 400 different herbicides and pesticides.
Then, the manufacturing and extraction take place just two hours from the farms, allowing for the fruit to remain fresh until processing.
Lastly, their ingredient formulation is what sets them apart from any other company producing monk fruit, which has to do with their decades-long process of perfecting the bonding process.
As Lakanto team members explained to us, the bonding process of monk fruit and erythritol—a natural sugar alcohol found in foods like grapes, pears, and mushrooms—is their most important achievement in creating the superior taste and texture of their sweetener.
Essentially, monk fruit and erythritol are bonded together in a proprietary formula to create an all-natural sugar-free sweetener that is 300 times sweeter than sucrose and melts on your tongue without large crystals or a bitter aftertaste.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the ever-expanding catalog at Lakanto.
Sweeteners and Syrups
Lakanto is an increasingly popular sweetener for the low-carb crowd, but they have more than just sugar replacements—they also provide monk fruit-based products like keto baking and brownie mixes, syrups, granola, chocolate chips, and more.
Lakanto’s flagship products are their monk fruit sweeteners, which include the Classic (white sugar replacement), Powdered, Golden (raw cane sugar replacement), and Brown—one of their newest products that perfectly emulates brown sugar.
As a quick aside, if you’re as curious as us about how this sugar sorcery works, here you go—the whole monk fruit is crushed and slowly steeped in hot water, then the juice is filtered to remove fructose and sucrose sugars, leaving a compound called mogroside that bypasses digestion by not being absorbed in the upper gastrointestinal tract.
Sugar-Free Maple Syrup
Keto diet followers can rejoice with this monk fruit-sweetened maple-flavored syrup—pair with Lakanto Pancake and Baking Mix for the perfect low-carb breakfast.
Purified Water, Tapioca Fiber, Non-GMO Lakanto Monkfruit Sweetener (Erythritol and Monk Fruit Extract), Vegetable Glycerin, Natural Flavors, Cellulose Gum, Sea Salt, Fruit Juice (Color), Natural Citrus Extract (Preservative
Baking Mixes and Ingredients
From breakfast to dessert, Lakanto has got you covered with sugar-free baking mixes and add-in ingredients.
All Purpose Bread Mix
For those who just want some plain ol’ bread (without the carbs), try Lakanto’s All Purpose Bread Mix for a freshly baked loaf.
Resistant Tapioca Starch, Flour Blend (Pea, Buckwheat), Vegetable Fibers (Potato, Rice, Tapioca, Plantago), Oat Fiber, Monkfruit Sweetener (Erythritol, Monk Fruit Extract), Less than 2% Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Sea Salt, Enzymatic Preparations, Xanthan Gum, Hypromellose, Natural Flavors.
Snacks and Treats
For those of us with a sweet tooth, you can make your dentist happy by making the switch to Lakanto’s sugar-free desserts and treats.
Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
Reeses, who? Indulge in these nostalgic chocolate peanut butter cups without any of the sugar hangover.
Peanuts, Unsweetened Chocolate, Non-GMO Lakanto Monkfruit Sweetener (Erythritol and Monk Fruit Extract), Cocoa Butter, Tapioca Fiber, Peanut Flour, Palm Oil, Sea Salt, Natural Flavors, Sunflower Lecithin
For their above-average descriptions of sourcing and manufacturing and ample information about the company’s founding, Lakanto receives an A grade for their transparency.
Lakanto’s website provides a great deal of information, including details about each product, the monk fruit harvesting and sourcing processes, and the story of its founding.
There is also robust information about the supply chain and manufacturing processes, including that the monk fruit is grown hours away from any city pollution and then transported two hours to a zero-emission plant for manufacturing.
However, while we appreciated the origin stories offered on the site, we do typically like to see information about current personnel—a sort of “who’s who” of the higher-ups at the company.
They’re also transparent with their shipping and return policies, which were easy to find on the site.
The website is organized, easy to browse, and loaded with helpful information about monk fruit, the products, and the company itself.
The Lakanto website, sporting bold red-and-white branding, is easy to navigate on both desktop and mobile and is chock-full of helpful resources to learn more about monk fruit and the company’s backstory.
You can also shop by type of meal (breakfast, baking, snacks, etc.), product type, or lifestyle, including sugar-free, keto, or vegan.
The “About Us” and “What Is Monk Fruit?” pages offer the most information, while the blog is primarily general health tips—which are still welcomed, albeit not always related to monk fruit, low-carb living, or the brand.
The e-commerce experience is clean and responsive, but some product pages don’t have visible prices —you have to add the item to the cart to find out how much it will cost you.
Overall, we awarded Lakanto with a solid “A” for their website experience.
Prompt replies via email plus a generous no-risk 45-day return policy boosted this grade up, but the phone and chat replies were subpar.
Lakanto offers three lines of communication—chat, email, and phone—with email providing the quickest response.
We got a thorough and helpful email response within five minutes, but asking a question via chat was a bit slower—although it stated we’d receive a reply within seven minutes, it didn’t come until 38 minutes later.
Plus, two phone calls were left unanswered on two separate days—upon calling, an automated message stated that the representatives were busy and to call back later or send an email—and there was no option to leave a voicemail.
Points were awarded for their generous return policy, which is a no-risk, 100% satisfaction guarantee that provides refunds within 45 days of purchase—however, the refund won’t include any shipping costs from the original order.
The shipping policies are pretty typical, with a 5-7 day window for standard shipping, and orders over $75 will get you free shipping (a little steep for a food brand).
Overall, the rapid responses via email—but lackluster replies on chat and inability to reach on the phone—and the accommodating return policy led us to award Lakanto with a B for customer service.
Although pricey, Lakanto products are worth it, with their high-quality ingredients and enormous value to the low-carb, keto, or sugar-free consumer.
It’s a little difficult to compare Lakanto’s monk fruit products to other brands because no one is doing it quite like Lakanto.
As Lakanto was the originator of this market, they know that they’re doing it right—as one of the team members we spoke to put it, “We don’t apologize for our price; we’re the best.”
But there’s no question that Lakanto products are pricey.
At $11.49 for a bag of chocolate chips and $9.99 for a loaf of bread (that you still have to bake and add up to five additional ingredients), Lakanto is not for those on a budget.
The monk fruit sweetener itself is a bit more economical—although still vastly more expensive than cane sugar, and slightly more pricey than stevia and other monk fruit brands:
- Lakanto Classic Monk Fruit Sweetener (1 lb): $12.99
- Cane sugar: $2.49/lb
- Natural Mate Stevia: $8.84/lb
- Monk Fruit in the Raw: $9.66/lb
However, we take into account the value of the solution that a brand offers—and Lakanto is offering up a big one by creating a sugar alternative that is made of natural ingredients, tastes good, and can be used by people on all types of diets.
Overall, when we take into account the enormous value of Lakanto’s solution for the low-carb and sugar-free crowds and the price compared to competitors, we award Lakanto with an A-.
We gave Lakanto an A+ for their sustainable practices, benefit to public health, and industry disruption by creating the world’s first monk fruit sweetener.
From sustainability to improving public health to industry disruption, we rank brands in this category based on how much value they bring to the population—and Lakanto is doing it well.
First, innovation is not in short supply at Lakanto—although they could’ve stopped once they perfected the monk fruit sweetener, they kept going and now have a wide catalog encompassing baking and bread mixes, desserts, and breakfast goods.
And it’s safe to say that the monk fruit sweetener industry was disrupted by Lakanto—because they invented it.
There’s an epidemic with diabetes, and our product does help diabetic people; the man who created it had a heart for those with diabetes because he was dealing with it himself.
Joel Patrick, Chief Revenue Officer at Lakanto
Rather than the “other guys,” who tend to use a blend of monk fruit and erythritol, Lakanto is unique in that it coats every granule of erythritol with monk fruit for perfectly consistent taste and texture.
For people who can’t or don’t want to eat sugar, Lakanto has changed the game on sugar-free sweeteners, creating a delicious and healthy option that elevates public nutrition by providing all of these sweet treats without impacting blood sugar—an enormous problem in today’s world.
As we heard from the team members at Lakanto, “There’s an epidemic with diabetes, and our product does help diabetic people; the man who created it had a heart for those with diabetes because he was dealing with it himself.”
Lakanto also practices sustainable manufacturing, with 100% of the waste produced at their zero-emissions processing plant going back to the earth by being composted and redistributed to local farms.
Plus, Lakanto’s parent company, Saraya, takes some of the residual pulp that remains after extracting the monk fruit and makes it into a natural hand scrub.
All of Lakanto’s present-day practices go back to Mr. Saraya’s original mission—to make products better for both the people and the environment.
With projects like Borneo conservation funds and the “Wash a Million Hands!” initiative to prevent infectious diseases from spreading in east Africa, Lakanto is passionate about making the world a better place.
Although our personal experiences don’t contribute to the overall score, the products we sampled from Lakanto would earn an A+.
A dash of the sugar-free simple syrup perfectly sweetened up a morning latte—without any of the subsequent sugar crash—and the maple syrup atop grain-free waffles made for a seemingly extravagant weekday breakfast.
Although we didn’t sample everything that Lakanto has to offer, we’re sure the quality and taste stand up across the board.
Are Lakanto Products Healthy?
Yes, Lakanto products are considered healthy—they are sugar-free, low-carb, keto-friendly, and gluten-free.
Is There a Downside to Monk Fruit Sweetener?
As of now, there is no scientific evidence of any negative effects of monk fruit sweetener.
Monk fruit has been consumed in Asian cultures for hundreds of years—it’s even used medicinally in meals like monk fruit soup.
Is Lakanto Sweetener Safe?
Yes, Lakanto monk fruit sweetener is considered safe, as it contains just non-GMO erythritol and monk fruit extract.
Erythritol is a safe and natural sugar alcohol found in many foods, like grapes, mushrooms, cheese, and pears.
Although erythritol is made from non-GMO corn, it is considered corn-free because it has been fermented.
Plus, erythritol causes less digestive stress than other sugar alcohols because it is absorbed into the bloodstream and excreted in the urine, instead of going through the digestive tract for excretion.
Is Lakanto FDA-Approved?
Lakanto’s monk fruit is deemed Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) by the FDA, which means it is safe for consumption.
Is Lakanto Made in China?
Yes, monk fruit is naturally grown in the highlands of Guilin, China, where there are pristine monk fruit farms that are hours away from city pollution.
Lakanto’s monk fruit manufacturing plant is also in China—about two hours from the farms—which helps ensure the freshness of the fruit.
Is Lakanto Really Keto?
Yes, Lakanto is a keto-friendly brand.
All of their products are keto-friendly, sugar-free, and gluten-free.
To sum things up, Lakanto received a solid A rating, with high points awarded for superior sourcing and manufacturing processes, transparent practices, and a commitment to sustainability and elevating public health.
Some of the standout areas were their dedication to keeping the monk fruit farming, harvesting, and manufacturing in the same region of China to support the local economy, as well as the ever-expanding innovative product line, and immense value to anyone living a low-sugar life.
Our only noted areas of improvement would be their delayed customer service responses and high price point—although many keto dieters would say the cost is well worth it.