Currently, two opposing forces within the chocolate market are at work globally: “better-for-you products” and indulgence.
Needless to say, the treat image of chocolate is driving the sector forward. however, it’s important for the baking industry to understand the various faces of chocolate and the claims chocolate brands around the world are capitalising on to capture market demand.
Free-from: Free-from examples, including those claiming to have “nothing added”, such as nuts, gluten, wheat and GM ingredients, can be found in most product categories. Not only are consumers who are intolerant choosing free-from products, but also those tempted by healthy-choice angles.
Health claims: the european Food Safety authority is quite vocal about its claim that dark chocolate cocoa powder can improve blood circulation and, as such, opens the door for further health claims. Specifically, media have reported in recent years that dark chocolate can even be good for heart health, particularly in older women who eat dark chocolate once or twice a week. Of course, health claims are commonly enhanced by the inclusion of other ingredients with a positive nutritional profile, such as stevia.
Origin-specific claims: the focus here is on purity, which means the cocoa’s place of origin is important, as is the fact it is left untreated and, therefore, the chocolate contains no additives. Choceur’s Single Origin dark Chocolate in the US is a good example of a popular product claiming it contains fine dark chocolate made with 65 per cent cocoa from Madagascar.
Centre-focused: Look at the popularity of Mars’s Pods. they are a leading example of a worldwide trend to incorporate a chocolate treat centre – often described as “melting” and “gooey”– in baked products such as soft cakes, puddings and biscuits.
Texture: the centre-focused trend is part of a larger global focus on new texture types, either as a result of novel applications or as a combination of existing ones. Cadbury’s dairy Milk Chocolate with Oreo Biscuit Pieces (UK), which incorporates milk chocolate with a vanilla flavoured filling and biscuit pieces, is a good example
Patented technologies: New technology is paving the way for products that have previously been absent from the market due to production and distribution limitations. Barry Callebaut’s Croquoa technology is a good example. the company has exclusive technology for the waffle market and is behind Cake a Way Waffle Croquoa, which has recently been launched on the US market. this product features “intense chocolate chips”, an ingredient that could previously not be used in waffles due to the melting point of chocolate.
Confectionery and bakery fusion: Improved technology has also allowed bakery and confectionery categories to be combined in a way never before possible. tastykake Smores Kandy Bar Kakes, which are marshmallow-flavoured cream-filled cakes, feature a light and fluffy chocolate cake with a cream filling, presented in a candy bar shape.
While the majority of these examples belong to the global retail category, it is a reminder of what today’s consumers are not only familiar with, but also embracing in larger and larger numbers. there will never be a substitute for quality artisan baked products, nor traditional favourites. however the baking sector will be left behind if it doesn’t adapt some of these innovative trends for its own market.