World Chocolate Day: Despite health concerns, chocolate popularity still strong in NPD

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07 Jul 2018 --- Today marks World Chocolate Day 2018 and July 7 is dedicated to all things cocoa-based. Despite concerns about health and obesity, chocolate remains a popular treat worldwide. World Chocolate Day supposedly marks the day when chocolate was first brought to Europe in 1550 and has been observed since 2009 globally. However, there has been a slight shift in consumer tastes. The focus on obesity and the health agenda has made many consumers transfer allegiance to lower sugar and fat confectionery products. However, to ensure chocolate is still a firm favorite for many years to come, confectionery manufacturers have been working hard to offer healthier versions of existing products, as well as new innovations.

Thanks to ingredients, such as Beneo’s functional carbohydrates, Isomalt and Palatinose consumers can benefit from chocolate products that offer fewer calories or a balanced source of energy and increased fat oxidation. Another route to healthier indulgence is available through its chicory root fibers, inulin and oligofructose, which enable manufacturers to develop chocolate treats that are sugar-reduced, rich in fiber, lower in calories and can even help to balance blood sugar levels while maintaining a mild, pleasant taste.

“In fact, trials at the Beneo-Technology Center have found that by including inulin in the recipe, the sugar content of milk chocolate can be easily reduced with one-third, while still conveying the same indulgent taste as the full-sugar equivalent,” says Rudy Wouters, Head of the Beneo Technology Center. 

Beneo's sugar reduced milk chocolate recipe with inulin, show how easy it is to achieve a 30 percent sugar reduction while allowing for a high fiber claim on the pack. Also, the additional reduced blood glucose response and digestive health claims are possible in Europe. 

Last week, Nestlé announced its plans to revamp its packaging for KitKat Senses, following in the trend to offer chocolate in small portion-packed, flow-wraps which tap into the “sharing trend.” 

Earlier in the year, Nestlé unveiled an innovative sugar reduction technique that is being hailed as a scientific breakthrough because of the way it “restructures” sugar. Researchers from the Swiss giant pioneered the “Milkybar Wowsomes” range, a chocolate bar that contains 30 percent less sugar than usual, describing this as the first chocolate bar in the world to use Nestlé’s innovative sugar reduction technique.

And last month, Herza Schokolade launched a new range of high-protein chocolate and compound pieces for products such as cereals and bars. The range includes white chocolate enriched with milk protein and milk or dark chocolate with extra vegetable protein.  Each type of chocolate features a protein content of between 20 and 25 percent. Additionally, the chocolate pieces are available as low-sugar variants. Small crispies, fruit pieces or fruit powder permit an additional taste experience and can be worked into the chocolate according to customer wishes. 

Major chocolate players:

Mondelez International
Modelez manufactures chocolate including iconic chocolate brands such as Oreo, Terry’s, Milka, Toblerone and Dairy Milk, but also cookies, gum, confectionary and powdered beverages. They hold the top position in biscuits and candy, and second in chocolate and gum.

Nestlé
Nestlé includes chocolate brands such as Crunch, Nestlé, KitKat and Smarties. It is a foodservice dedicated organization which has a broad market base serving fast casual, convenience stores, foodservice at retail, colleges and universities and healthcare.

Barry Callebaut
Barry Callebaut operates in 55 factories worldwide, employing 11,000 people and producing 1.7 million tons of cocoa annually. The company has a focus on innovation and R&D, demonstrated by their creation of Ruby chocolate in 2017 which was awarded the most innovative new product at the 2018 Sweets and Snacks Expo.

Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate 
Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate partners with the world’s leading consumer goods, restaurant and retail brands to create innovative products. FoodIngredientsFirst recently spoke with Taco Terheijden, Director of Cocoa Sustainability at Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate, who discussed the company's updates on its 2025 goals to tackling child labor. You can read the interview here

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