The world's largest chocolate maker has created a new colour of chocolate. Not dark, milk or white, this fourth way promises to be neither bitter nor milky nor sweet.
A result of years of research and development, ruby chocolate is said to meet “consumer needs no chocolate ever did before”, according to its creator, Swiss cocoa giant Barry Callebaut.
The firm is behind one in five chocolate products globally.
Ruby chocolate promises to be “a tension between berry-fruitiness and luscious smoothness”. However, a journalist for The Chocolate Life website who tasted the product at the Shanghai launch event said it had “little to none” of the cocoa flavour associated with chocolate.
Peter Boone, Barry Callebaut’s chief innovation and quality officer, said the chocolate satisfies a “new consumer need found among millennials”. And it needs to. Chocolate producers are being squeezed on both sides by changing consumer demands and increasing costs for raw materials.
The top 12 chocolate brands are all feeling the pinch, their collective value down 4%, or £78.3m, in 2017, according to the Grocer.
Supermarket own-brand chocolates have also seen a drop in sales, in part a result of the health campaigns against sugar and more consumer awareness around alternative snacks.
In the UK the war on sugar has successfully ousted confectioneries from the tills of major supermarkets and cut down on impulse buys. More conscientious, less-is-more snackers now either look for higher quality chocolate or opt for the array of fruit or nut-based alternatives to get their fix.
Margins are also getting tighter, as highlighted by the flurry of ‘shrinkflation’ scandals that have surrounded the industry as producers reduce packaging seizes in order to keep product costs stable.
The issue has not only affected confectionery, but was perhaps symbolised most visually in the way Mondelez redesigned it’s iconic Toblerone bar, introducing plateaus between it’s chocolate peaks in order to shave off grams. At the time, Mondelez said the change was in response to the weaker pound – which coincided with the Brexit vote – and higher production costs.
Ruby chocolate, derived from “ruby” cocoa beans, was a global research and development effort by Barry Callebaut, 80 years after the invention of white chocolate.
Boone told the Guardian the beans are a new variety of cocoa grown in the Ivory Coast, Brazil and Ecuador. But there is speculation in the industry that ruby beans may simply be unfermented cocoa. Raw cocoa beans are naturally a similar pinkish flavour to the chocolate before they are processed.
Barry Callebaut has not released any details of the recipe, other than to say there are no artificial colours or flavours.
The firm is confident this new variety will meet changing tastes, citing markets in the US, UK, China and Japan.
“We’re looking forward to working with our partners on introducing this innovative breakthrough to the market and making the new ruby chocolate category available to chocolate manufacturers and consumers around the world,” said Boone.
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