Barry Callebaut launches dairy free and protein enhanced chocolate for US market

Barry Callebaut has expanded its confectionery products for the US market, including a dairy-free ‘milk-like’ chocolate and protein enhanced options catering to growing consumer health trends, reports Neill Barston.

The Swiss-headquartered cocoa and chocolate processing company released its latest series of products at its global ‘BC Live’ virtual event, which targets a major shift towards customers favouring healthier snacks and confectionery options.

As the company’s team explained to Confectionery Production, its latest series has been devised against a backdrop of four key dietary choices. These included consumer lifestyles based around demand for plant-based non dairy vegan options, high protein variants, sugar-reduction focused (keto) and paleo diet trends centred on natural ingredients.

According to its research, among the most significant factors driving these trends are statistics showing 54% of US consumers indicating they would like to eat more plant based foods, with 63% of millennials adding such ranges into their regular diets.

Studies have also identified that 10% of US customers presently avoid dairy product ranges – rising to a total of 15% for younger millennial and centennial age groups. Unveiling the launches, Sophia Bischof, brand marketing specialist at Barry Callebaut, said: “We have definitely see that plant based products are growing and we continue to innovate in this space.

“This is why we have launched two additions to the portfolio, our Dairy-free ‘milk-like chocolate’ (created for a milk chocolate experience with a creamy texture), and our dairy-free plant-based protein coating which contains 20% plant protein and is chocolate based, which has been designed for confections, bars and healthy snacks.

“We have seen the plant based trend for a long time, so have had an offering for the past two years, so our latest improved product has a new recipe that delivers a milk chocolate experience,” adding that the milk chocolate bar category remained the most popular confectionery segment for US consumers.

Consequently, she explained its latest series had been delivered with a creamy texture, smooth mouthfeel and offering a caramel taste. She revealed its 20% protein coating product had been developed following significant sensory testing, which she believed would have broad product application across confections, bars and healthy snacks.

The launches follow the company’s dairy-free launch at ISM in Cologne, Germany (pictured main image), earlier this year, which focused on plant-based chocolate options in response to growing consumer demand.

Bischof added: “Every fifth in US says they try to eat plant based most of the time, so in our portfolio we have developed dairy free and non dairy solutions across chocolate, cocoa and nuts.

“For delivering these products, we have a certified dairy free line with a segregated production area, and our cocoa products are produced in a facility that is non dairy,” noting that its range of nut butters were tree-based nuts, which avoids potential health allergy issues surrounding the use of peanuts within its ranges.”

Power of protein

Commenting on its protein focus, Bischof added that product focuses within the market had moved from niche to mainstream, with products once only seen in specialist nutrition retailers now being far more freely seen in local grocery stores.

“It’s not only athletes that are looking for these products, but a much wider group of Americans. Six million claim to live on a high protein diet – high protein is an important factor in 50% of purchasers decisions.”

Discussing the growing trend for Keto dietary choices, which centre on sugar reduction, her colleague Laura Bergan, director of brand, marketing, revealed there had been a particularly notable take-up from consumers.

She explained that its product portfolio has been designed with a ‘triple play’ of consumers wanting great tasting products, which are both good for you, as well as being good for the planet.

“The Keto lifestyle is all about limiting sugar intake in parallel with carbs, looking for proteins fruits and veg, that they are ideally wanting their bodies to go into a state of Ketosis – instead of burning carbs as energy, they’re burning fat, which is a health trend that’s grown a lot, doubling 2018-2019. We have had sugar free and sugar reduced chocolates, but we’ve seen a greater need for this over the past couple of years, and have spent a lot of innovation time on this to deliver the best products.”

She added that this is being delivered through Keto-based product options in the form of nut-based fillings such as cashews and almonds, as well as cocoa nibs.
In addition, Bergan added that its fourth category of focus, the paleo diet. This has targeted customers who had based their eating habits on holistic eating trends blending the best of traditional eating with contemporary embellishments.

The brand director noted that one of the key drivers for this product section had been the fact that research showed 45% of US consumers had been seeking more natural ingredients across their diets.

Commenting on its latest ranges, she added: “We have expectations for these products in that we think the majority of buying will happen within those consumer groups (millennium and centennials), given the amount of consumers that are going at least part or completely dairy free, or are flexitarian.

“So having that ‘triple play’ of tasting great, being better for you and great for the planet, we feel there’s a strong story there with these ranges.”
Another major launch over the past two year in the US has been the emergence of ruby chocolate.

She explained that the business is continuing to explore commercial options for the variety, which has been taken up by a number of manufacturers including products such as Magnum ice cream and Haagen-Dazs. The company’s other big chocolate release of the past year, Wholefruit Chocolate, which uses the full extend of the cacao fruit, is expected to gain its commercial release by March 2021.

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