Product Development Supervisor
Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate
Overall, sales of chocolate—including premium chocolate—have been climbing despite rising prices. It appears, then, as though chocolate is something that many people just can't do without.
With many people wanting to make health a priority in 2013, it's an ideal time to talk about what's ahead in cocoa and chocolate "with benefits."
Protein: In 2013, sales of energy/nutrition bars are predicted to jump 14 percent, surpassing those of cereal/granola bars, which aren't going to be too shabby either, at plus 4 percent (Packaged Facts: Food Bars in the U.S.: Cereal/Granola Bar and Energy/Nutrition Bar Trends, April 2012). Nutrition bars are so popular because they are convenient, portable, nonperishable ways to provide energy on the go.
A chocolatey flavored coating can help boost protein and may reduce the need for sugar. When using traditional confectionery coatings it becomes a challenge for bar manufacturers to maintain a nutrient content claim of a good or excellent source of protein without also increasing the protein in the bar’s core to levels that can become unpalatable. Adding more milk, casein or whey proteins to the coating can be one solution.
Adding protein to the coating has been shown to increase viscosity, which usually means adding fat to thin the coating back to its original consistency. However, consumers are wary of extra fat and calories. We've found that using a larger coating particle size is key, because the particles in the coating bind less fat than finer particles, allowing more free fat to circulate in the coating without increasing overall fat content while maintaining a viscosity that is fit for enrobing or bottoming these types of bars.
Clean label: Some consumers are looking to buy products with fewer ingredients on the label. Chocolate can work well in this space because the standard of identity only permits a limited amount of ingredients, which helps to reduce the overall length of the declaration.
Dark chocolate: As consumers age, they eat more dark chocolate—because it both tastes good and delivers antioxidants called flavanols. Teens account for only 12 percent of the dark chocolate market, while consumption climbs to 15 percent in adults aged 18 to 44 and then nearly doubles—to 29 percent—in adults 45 and older (NPD Group, May 2011).
Lactose-free chocolate: Global sales of lactose-free chocolate have tripled in the last few years (Innova, 2012). Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn't define "lactose-free," you would have to monitor lactose levels to prevent cross-contamination with lactose-containing foods manufactured in the same facility and assure your labeling is truthful and not misleading to consumers.
Josh Rahn, product development supervisor at Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate, Inc., has been with Cargill for all of his 8 years in the industry.