The ancient Mayans called it "kak kow," or "god food," and although we have come to call it "chocolate," we can all agree that it's heavenly. Cocoa powder, one of the most commonly used cocoa products, is used in milk, candy, baked goods and ice cream to impart that celestial chocolaty taste. So when weather or political unrest in cocoa-producing regions tighten the supply of this high-demand product, prices can rise sharply.
Poor crops, increased demand for cacao products and political strife in key cocoa-producing countries, like the Ivory Coast, have led food manufacturers to turn to Cargill to help manage costs and supply gaps. (You can read more about the political strife related to cocoa in FoodProcessing.com's article Don't take Chocolate for Granted) While the export of cocoa powder from the Ivory Coast resumed in May after tensions from the presidential elections subsided, powder stock levels in the world are still low. Cargill is working with food manufacturers to maximize the impact of cocoa powder in their formulations. The key is choosing a cocoa powder with the optimal pH, color and flavor for the application.
Cargill's Gerkens® brand offers a complete range of cocoa powders with varying color and flavor profiles from natural to highly alkalized. Our high quality powders are uniquely processed to achieve dark colors while retaining strong cocoa impact. Darker cocoa powders often pick up overly- alkalized flavor characteristics, which reduce the overall cocoa impact. In very dark cocoa powders, such as black cocoa powder, there is very little cocoa flavor remaining. To achieve a dark color in an end application, the developer is sacrificing good flavor. By using a product such as Gerkens 10/12 Garnet™ cocoa powder, a dark red color can be achieved while retaining good, strong cocoa flavor in end application. Using Gerkens 10/12 DB82 cocoa powder allows food processors to retain a strong cocoa flavor, but achieve a dark brown color. Another advantage to the use of Gerkens highly alkalized cocoa powders is that they can often be used at reduced levels compared to similarly alkalized cocoa powders due to their strong flavor impact.
Cargill experts can help food processors reduce costs in your formulations. If you are formulating with natural or lightly alkalized cocoa powders, we can help you achieve similar results using darker, more flavorful, more highly alkalized cocoa powders at lower levels and reduced costs. For some applications, switching from a premium, high-fat (22-24% fat) cocoa powder to a 10-12% fat cocoa powder can reduce costs. Not only are the 10-12% fat cocoa powders traditionally less costly compared to the 22-24% fat cocoa powders, but they also have stronger overall flavor profiles. This gives a dual cost savings opportunity, as they can often be used at a lower percentage than their high fat counterparts. While it's best to stick with the 22/24 versions for dusting powder on, say, tiramisu for dry color impact, switching to 10/12 cocoa powder can be achieved in many applications without affecting the end flavor.
For other ideas regarding how Cargill can help manufacturers manage costs, see: http://www.cargill.com/food/na/en/ie/cost-management/index.jsp
Kimberly Stangl is an associate food technologist at Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate. She has been with the company for nearly 2 years.