Cargill’s cocoa & chocolate business has just released its comprehensive report highlighting key sector trends to help manufacturers develop their next winning innovations.
Based on insight gained from interactions with customers across numerous application categories, and on information gathered from projects with customers through Cargill’s application centres, the report highlights trends across four key themes: Indulgent; Premium; Healthy; and Sustainable and clean.
Indulgent – today’s consumer is looking for an ever-more indulgent experience, across flavour, texture and colour, inspiring new levels of creativity in sweet foods around the world.
In flavours – vegetable and chocolate combinations are becoming popular across a range of categories, for example kale flavour fillings in chocolate bars and chocolate featuring alongside beetroot in cakes.
Texture is also evolving towards more indulgence, with larger chocolate chunk inclusions as well as new combinations of textures such as crispy chocolate layers on top of creamy desserts.
Cocoa powder is increasingly being used to play with shades and add depth of colour.
Premium – demand for premium products is at an all-time high, with provenance and origin being key among cocoa and chocolate products. Besides specifying the origin of cocoa or chocolate, manufacturers increasingly highlight on the pack the country where the end-product was manufactured, satisfying consumers’ desire to buy local products. Inspiration from the artisanal industry is also observed. Processes behind the product are becoming more prominent on packaging – with details included such as ‘stone ground’ or ‘slow churned’ and even the conching time of chocolate.
Healthy – how diet affects health and wellness is increasingly on consumers’ minds, leading them to avoid ingredients perceived as unhealthy, and look for those perceived as healthy. Besides the long standing trend for sugar reduction and gluten free, lactose free claims are increasingly being observed in cocoa and chocolate products, with milk alternatives such as coconut milk increasing in popularity. Looking at ingredients seen as beneficial, the trend for protein is still booming and becoming mainstream, breaking free from the sports nutrition niche and focusing on satiety rather than sports recovery.
Sustainable and clean – where food comes from, how it is produced, and its true ethical and environmental cost, really matter to today’s consumer. Certified chocolate products are becoming more popular and spreading their reach out from chocolate tablets into dairy, bakery, biscuits and ice cream. Answering consumers’ needs for more transparency, clean and clear labelling is also more important than ever. In the quest to remove e-numbers, real fruits and plant extracts are being increasingly used to naturally colour products.