AAK delivers key range of fats replacing cocoa butter for chocolate ranges

Chocolate. Dark bitter chocolate chunks, cacao butter, cocoa powder and cocoa beans. Chocolate background

Ingredients business AAK has developed a key range of fats to create a super compound aimed at replacing up to 100% of the free cocoa butter within chocolate recipes for confectionery.

Notably, the new range, known as Illexao is claimed to reduce manufacturers’ formulation costs by up to 40% with no decline in quality or product stability.

As the company revealed, the main fat phase of the super compound comprises vegetable fats with a similar composition to cocoa butter. This means it is fully compatible with cocoa butter, which will allow chocolate manufacturers to use it in their products to reduce costs while continuing to add cocoa mass to their formulations. The super compound is also said to deliver equivalent taste, texture and meltdown properties, as well as a similar nutritional profile.

Traditionally, cocoa butter was the only vegetable fat used in chocolate, but a combination of increased demand, rising prices, varying quality levels and inconsistent supplies has led chocolate companies to seek alternatives.

Standard compounds are more affordable, but the fat has a different composition to – and is not compatible with – cocoa butter, leading to sensory differences in the chocolate due to a lower cocoa mass content. Depending on the blend of vegetable fats in the compound, manufacturers may be forced to consider compromising the nutritional profile of their product by adding saturated and trans fats. Technical difficulties such as these have therefore limited the use of compounds largely to chocolate coatings.

However, the business added that by using the right vegetable fat, such as AAK’s Illexao range, to replace some or all of the cocoa butter in the chocolate recipe, it is possible to produce a super compound. This overcomes all of these obstacles, giving manufacturers the opportunity to create indulgent chocolate with excellent sensory properties and clean label credentials while saving 10-40% of ingredient costs. The exact amount of savings will depend on the recipe and raw material costs.

Additional benefits of using the super compound include increased scope for customisation and improved shelf stability, bloom resistance and shape retention. Increased stability is more essential than ever during the COVID-19 crisis, because many more shoppers are ordering food over the internet.

Even before the pandemic, 35% of shoppers said they had bought chocolate online, according to AAK research, which studies have shown has risen in recent months amid the pandemic.

Marco Oomen, AAK’s Global Business Director for Chocolate & Confectionery Fats, said: “Our research shows that the taste of chocolate is by far the most important factor for consumers. This makes it important not to cut costs at the expense of taste by using ingredients that are cheaper than cocoa butter but inferior in terms of performance. Our range of super compounds offers both a premium eating experience and lower raw material overheads, as well as a clean label and no difference in the nutrition profile of the finished product,” explained Oomen, who added that the growth of internet shopping has highlighted the need for manufacturers to ensure product quality remains stable during transportation to consumers.

AAK’s standard super compound solution is a blend of shea butter and palm oil. Alternative exotic fats can be incorporated in line with the chocolate manufacturer’s preferences.

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