Chocolate has traditionally been seen as being something of an indulgence, but consumer demand for healthy alternatives has even stretched as far as this cocoa delight. As well as health, premium products are on the up, as is origin chocolate. So what new products are manufacturers and suppliers offering?

Despite the seemingly indulgent nature of chocolate, it’s no stranger to healthier alternatives. Zurich-based cocoa and chocolate product manufacturer Barry Callebaut recently developed a range of ’rebalanced’ products that contain more dietary fibres, less sugar and less fat.

The company’s developments focus on two areas - one purely on indulgence and the other on the combination of indulgence and health aspects. "Nowadays, more and more people accept the idea that chocolate and health can go together," explains Ann Doeth, marketing manager. "This is a very different situation to three years ago."

In terms of new products, the company will be launching Croquoa at HIE (Health Ingredients Europe) 2008 in Paris in November. "It is a new extruded texture to give added value to products. It is made with cocoa and sugar and can be put in different applications such as tablets," explains Doeth, who says the company will also be highlighting some of its recently-launched products, including ACTICOA, tooth-friendly chocolate and probiotic chocolate.

As well as health, there is also a move towards more premium products - for example, origin chocolates. The company did a recent survey on what consumers eat, chocolate-wise and found that, in the UK, 21% already eat origin chocolate, second only to the USA.

Barry Callebaut aims to present innovations in chocolate that also combine the pleasure effect because, as Doeth adds, "taste remains the most important thing".

== Origin chocolates ==

Puratos provides chocolate ingredients to the bakery sector through Belgian chocolate manufacturer Belcolade. Its most recent development has been the extension of its Collection range, with three new origin chocolates from Uganda, Vanuatu and the Dominican Republic. "Since the beginning of the year, interest in the new origins has been overwhelming," says Matt Crumpton, marketing manager.

The three additions are: Noir Collection Uganda 80, with its high cocoa content; Lait Collection Vanuatu 44, which delivers a strong cocoa flavour with a hint of coffee and spice; and the Blanc Collection Dominican Republic 31, which has a lighter butter and milk flavour, with a hint of flowers and dried fruit.

This year’s Speciality & Fine Food Fair in September saw the unveiling of a new range of Organic & Fairtrade Couverture by Josef Zotter, a producer from Austria, whose chocolate is distributed in the UK through Merchant Europe. The range consists of 11 varieties, which increase in cocoa content, up to 100%, and have Ecuadorian, Peruvian, Nicaraguan or Dominican roots. Varieties include: a 10% cocoa blend with almonds, Tyrolean organic milk, cane sugar & vanilla; a 30% white chocolate blend; 60%, 70%, 80% and 90% dark chocolate blends; and a 100% pure sugar-free creation. There is also a 40% Soya Milk couverture, for non-dairy eaters.

"Couvertures typically have a very low particle size and a lower viscosity than chocolate that contains less than 31% total fat, thus offering a smoother, silkier mouthfeel and different melting characteristics," explains Simon Godden, NPD manager of agricultural processor ADM Classic, which sources cocoa beans from across the globe and processes them into a range of cocoa powders, butters and liquors under the De Zaan brand name.

Meanwhile, developer, producer and supplier Unifine Food & Bake Ingredients is offering tips on chocolate use. It recently launched a ’chocolate mailing list’, giving buyers access to a range of recipes using chocolate, as well as advance information on special offers and new products. The Unifine 2008 Collection houses a range of chocolate decorations and toppings, including chocolate flowers, white and milk chocolate sucrea duo rose buds and sucrea curls.

Chocs away with these suppliers:

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