Special Report: Confectionery & Chocolate Trends – It’s Not Only Sugar Reduction on the Menu

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04 Apr 2017 --- Sugar remains the key ingredient delivering the sweetness and great taste that consumers are looking for, specifically in the chocolate and confectionery sectors. The quest to combine taste and health is driving NPD, as the industry faces the challenge of balancing public demand to reduce added sugars and create indulgent experiences, while at the same time presenting clean label products.

“Sweeter Balance” is tipped as trend 3 for 2017 by Innova Market Insights and sugar reduction is evidently high on the agenda for many confectionery and chocolate manufacturers. In the UK, The Sugar Reduction Program by Public Health England is part of the government’s push to cut obesity rates and associated health problems. Food giants, including the likes of Nestlé, Mars, PepsiCo and Kellogg’s, have previously been told to decrease sugar content by 20% in products aimed at children. These include food like chocolate and sweet confectionery.

Launched earlier this year, at ISM 2017 in Cologne, BENEO’s innovations in sugar-free hard candies were represented through its Sweets Collection. These state-of-the-art sugar-free hard boiled candies are said to appeal to all senses with both visual appearance and great taste, thanks to BENEO’s unique sugar replacer, ISOMALT.  Thomas Schmidt, Marketing Director at BENEO said: “BENEO are delivering new inspiration to the market through our innovation concepts. Our concepts open the door to new and exciting possibilities for our customers, revitalizing this very important market segment.” Click to Enlarge

Recent trials at the BENEO-Technology Center found that by the inclusion of ISOMALT and inulin the sugar content of a milk chocolate could be reduced by more than two-thirds while conveying the same sweet and indulgent taste as the full-sugar equivalent.

Chicory root fiber is one of the recent innovations to hone in on the reduced sugar trend. BENEO’s chicory fibers inulin and oligofructose enables food manufacturers to produce sweet treats that are sugar-reduced, rich in fiber, low in calories and help to balance blood sugar levels.

Another company focusing on the potential of chicory root fiber is Sensus. Iwan Blankers, CEO told FoodIngredientsFirst: “Sugar reduction is a big trend for us, and it’s getting more and more attention. I think looking forward one of the areas that could provide potentially is confectionery, people still want a sweet taste, they just want it to be healthier.” He adds: “With confectionery one of the main reasons is indulgence, and it needs to be a treat that tastes good.”

Sugar reduction, however, is not the only trend that is appearing across the world’s confectionery shelves. FoodIngredientsFirst spoke with several ingredient companies to see how they are responding to confectionery trends across the board. 

Indulgency Without Guilt
FoodIngredientsFirst spoke with Sara Lesina, Marketing Manager at Cargill, who said: “The sugar confectionery space is increasingly competitive, concentrated, and is under certain pressure from the sugar-free and health & wellness trends. This is why product innovation is important for our customers, who strive to reinvigorate this segment. As Cargill, we support them with a number of solutions, from sugar replacement to alternatives to gelatin, and many label-friendly options, like pectin.”

“One area of innovation that is gaining momentum is the texture, taste and flavor exploration: even though consumers are becoming increasingly conscious about purchasing sweets, they still look for quality and a pleasurable experience. Hence why developing new products that offer a unique, memorable sensorial experience through new texture and ingredient combination is showing great market return for our customers. Removing undesired ingredients should not mean compromising on indulgence,” she explains. 

Earlier this month, Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate launched new additions to its coatings and fillings range offering extended capabilities to manufacturers, with innovations designed to answer key trends and fulfil consumer needs and preferences.

Each of the coatings and fillings responds to a trend identified in Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate’s recently issued Trends report, which highlights fashions across four key themes: Healthy, Sustainable & Clean, Premium and Indulgent.  Click to Enlarge

Harold Poelma, President of Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate notes: “Consumers are looking for more in terms of indulgence, our customers are looking for opportunities in the premium end of the market and there is a strong interest, in chocolate in general.”

More recently, Cargill introduced a newly developed texturizing solution that will enable European confectionery manufacturers to achieve optimal texture and transparency while reducing drying time by up to 50 percent for their gelatin-free winegum applications.

The new Cargill product – C*Clearset 35426 – is a unique blend of specialty starches for gelatin-free sugar confectionery applications with outstanding functionality. It offers a softer texture with excellent flavor release, optimal transparency and facilitates up to 50 percent reduction in drying time compared to a single starch base. This introduction boosts the variety of possibilities to design nutritious, convenient and tasty foods to satisfy consumers. 

“When it comes to taste perception, texture is key. In Europe, gummy and jelly product launches with a texture-related claim have doubled in the past five years”, says Laura Goodbrand, EMEA starch product manager for Cargill Starches, Sweeteners & Texturizers. 

“Not only are we seeing a change in consumer preference for softer and more transparent sweets, but we expect a rise in demand for gelatin-free products (Innova Market Insights, 2017). The appeal for vegan products is expanding across all categories beyond those who avoid animal products for ethical reasons. To cater to the need of this growing consumer base, gelatin use in gummies and jellies is being progressively phased out, with ‘gelatin-free’ increasingly highlighted on product packaging.” 

Goodbrand told FoodIngredientsFirst: “The challenge was to develop a solution based on specialty starches that meets customer needs: offering great transparency and flavor release, a unique soft texture meeting consumer demand, while reducing drying time by up to 50% when producing vegan wine gums.”

“Clearset offers a uniquely soft texture which, coupled with outstanding transparency and optimal flavor release, makes it the perfect ingredient solution to develop new and innovative products to invigorate the gelatin-free gummies and jellies market.” No other ingredient today offers the same sensorial properties, while also offering a 50% drying time reduction, according to Goodbrand. 

You can read the full story here

Chocolate Fillings with Less Fat
Fat, along with sugar is another key area that can target calorie reduction. Experiencing the same mouthfeel with less fat can be challenging for food manufacturers and they don’t want consumers looking for a certain indulgent experience to feel as though they are missing out. 

Schmidt, Marketing Director BENEO said: “At BENEO we believe that chocolate will remain the number one treat in the years to come. By taking small steps and making slight alterations with smart ingredients, recipes can be significantly enhanced with nutritional benefits. This is an approach that is compulsory in a world in which non-communicable diseases such as obesity, diabetes well as gut-related disorders are growing in prevalence.”

Just last week, Sensient Flavors announced the launch of their range of innovative fat-soluble flavors for fillings confectionery applications. Nine sophisticated taste profiles have been developed, including single and dual flavors such as apple & almond, banana split, praline and smoked coconut. All of the flavors are natural, suitable for vegan concepts and are Kosher certified.

“The global chocolate market is set to grow in volume by 5% and increase in value by more than 10% between 2015 and 2020. The challenge for manufacturers is to create products that stand out from the competition. We recognize the consumer demand for sophisticated sensory experiences and, whether that need presents itself as bold flavoring Click to Enlargecombinations, exciting texture pairings or a unique appearance, with our portfolio, we are perfectly prepared to develop products that are bang on trend and fulfil the most important aspect of sweet treats — being indulgent,” said Simon Daw, Director of Marketing at Sensient Sweet Flavors Europe.

Gelatin-Free and Vegan Gummies
The clean label trend penetrating the food and beverage industry has led to a simplifying of product labels and a change in ingredient lists. Manufacturers are challenged to reformulate with new and innovative technologies which adhere to consumer demands. One such demand is the removal of gelatin from applications such as gummy confections and nutritional delivery systems such as gummy vitamins. As the clean label trend continues to evolve, so must the R&D efforts around new innovations. 

Phil a’Becket, Market Research Analyst at TIC Gums spoke with FoodIngredientsFirst: “Gummies are a popular delivery system for vitamins and nutritional supplements and that characteristic texture was traditionally created with gelatin. In recent months, however, consumer desire for more transparency into the ingredients used in foods has increased demand for gelatin-free options.”

“Interestingly,” notes a’Becket, “While approximately 55% of gummy and jelly confections launched in the US since 2012 exclude gelatin, only 6% carry a vegetarian or vegan claim. Rather, Kosher and Halal claims are much more common, appearing on about 20% of products, likely due to the appeal across multiple dietary restrictions.”

According to a’Becket gelatin is responsible for a distinctive set of textural attributes for which there is no 1:1 replacement. He explains: “While ingredients such as pectin have been traditionally used as a gelatin alternative, formulators are finding out that replacing gelatin with pectin may not yield the desired texture in the end product. We identified cohesiveness, hardness, springiness, and toothpack as the four attributes that are critical in a gummy vitamin and developed a gum system to modify those attributes.”

TIC Gums’ Ticagel Natural GC-581 B offers a non-GMO alternative in gelatin-free applications. “Important sensory characteristics such as cohesiveness and hardness can be adjusted to allow manufacturers the ability to customize a gelatin-free gummy product that delivers the desired combination of textural components,” says a’Becket.

Also meeting with the rising trend of gelatin free and protein enriched products are Emsland Group, who  have recently introduced a new confectionery concept: a Jelly Bar. The ingredient supplier has created a transparent, flexible, elastic fruit-bar produced by an extrusion – or molding process. The Jelly Bar consists of a fruity body (equal if it’s a bar or cut into pieces), which is enriched with protein sources, fibers or grains. This kind of bar can also be covered with chocolate or other sweet toppings.

The innovation behind the Jelly Bar is Emden ET 50, a newly developed cross-linked and hydroxypropylated starch (E1440) Click to Enlargefrom Emsland. Products based on this starch will also have a long shelf life without breaking difficulties and it is suitable to produce vegan and fat free confectionery products.

Jelly bars is the latest possible application for this innovative starch, which was initially and is still mainly marketed at gummy bear type applications, but apparently potential that extends as far as marshmallows and marmalade. You can read the full article on this “Magic Starch” here.

Most gummies contain gelatin, but the growing demand for vegetarian, kosher and halal products has driven innovation in this space. One company who has replaced gelatin with pectin is Anlit, Ltd who uses a unique technology to produce a pectin-based turmeric gummy by using a clean, starch-free, molding system forming a tender, textured gum. 

Anlit’s gummy technology overcomes the challenges of the unpleasant flavor and aroma associated with many curcumin supplements.  

“There are only a few turmeric gummies in the marketplace, but Anlit’s unique technology allows for the incorporation of a substantial dose of curcumin—30 mg—in synergy with 150 mcg of piperine per gummy, without affecting taste or texture,” says Shai Karlinski, VP of sales and marketing for Anlit. Click to Enlarge

The turmeric gummy is an easy and fun way to consume a beneficial curcumin dosage, without the need to swallow tablets or capsules.

Gelatin and Collagen Peptides in Confectionery
According to a’Becket, TIC Gums, 28% of gummy and jelly confections launched in the US contain a hydrocolloid or hydrocolloid blend. He states: “Not surprisingly, pectin is the most commonly used hydrocolloid, which can be attributed to its very clean label image and high functionality in these types of applications. Gum acacia is seen in 5% of product launches, typically the candied shell on jelly bean type confections.”

Widely used in the production of food, gelatin offers manufacturers across all categories an unrivalled set of functionalities. Rousselot’s range of products includes gelatin, hydrolyzed gelatin, a as well as gelatin solutions facilitating innovation. Peptan can also be used in the confectionery sector. 

“Reformulating foods to achieve a clean label claim can present technical and formulation challenges,” says Ellis Brouns, Rousselot Global Marketing Manager, “Ingredients, such as gelatin or hydrolyzed gelatin, have proven to offer multiple functional and nutritional benefits while complying to the requirements of clean label claims.” 

The addition of ProTake (hydrolyzed gelatin) can act as a replacement to improve texture and flavor, while serving as a bulking agent due to its excellent water retention properties. Brouns explains: “In our applications lab, we have developed several prototype recipes using ProTake. For example, Fruit Pulp Gummies that have 12 per cent less sugar than traditional gummies and an increased protein content. Fruit pulp has been used as the sole source of flavor and color.”

With its high protein content, ProTake is a hydrolyzed gelatin and the ideal natural ingredient to boost protein levels or to reformulate your product with less fat and/or sugar.

The world of confectionery is ever changing, mostly driven by sugar and calorie reduction, it is evident, however, that the consumer needs for sweet and indulgent treats will be trends that continue for years to come. Texture differences, flavor combinations are dietary needs are just some of the trends driving innovation in this area. Confectionery is a huge market with lots of potential, some of the most interesting ideas and ingredients have come out of the woodwork. Ingredient specialists are continuing with innovation and R&D to supply their customers with unique ways to transform confectionery. 

by Elizabeth Kenward

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