Belcolade claims sector first with plant-based premium white couverture

Belgian-based Belcolade has unveiled what is believed to be a breakthrough sustainably sourced plant-based premium white couverture, as it seeks to expand its overall portfolio, reports Neill Barston.

Its development comes amid notable wider category growth, with major brands around the world continuing to push the boundaries of the market, in response to heightened global demand.

For its new launch, Belcolade, which is part of the Puratos group, explained its latest release, Selection W. Plant-based Cacao-Trace is targeting  chocolatiers, pâtissiers and other professional chocolate users for the new series, offering another luxury variety. It follows a similar launch for its milk-alike counterpart.

As the company noted, its expanded product series carries its Cacao-Trace certification, based on careful selection of cocoa beans from Ivory Coast, Philippines, Vietnam, Mexico and Papua New Guinea, in which farmers are paid an additional premium for the quality of their respective crops. Under the initiative, cocoa communities are also paid a further Chocolate Bonus for every kilo of Cacao-Trace products that are sold.

The business noted that its latest white couverture has been designed to deliver in terms of its taste profile, as well as having a rich, creamy texture. It also has the perfect “snap” that consumers love, along with a clean, white chocolate colour. Differentiating itself even further, it is free of coconut, as well as nuts, soy and gluten – allergens typically found in other plant-based white options.

As the company added, the plant-based market is more inclusive than ever with vegan, vegetarian and now flexitarian consumers influencing demand. The number of consumers purchasing plant-based products has grown to 60% from only 36% in 2018, Taste Tomorrow research shows. However, the study also revealed that, while many people embrace the concept of reducing their intake of animal-derived foods, one third of consumers globally would not consider buying plant-based options because of poor taste and texture. After identifying the customer challenge and consumer demand, Belcolade set out to create a solution that satisfies both parties simultaneously and contributes to the growth of the plant-based chocolate market.

“Our latest innovation is the result of a close collaboration between industry professionals and Belcolade chocolate experts,” states Youri Dumont, SBU chocolate director at Puratos. “Creating this unique innovation consisted of trials of more than 50 ingredients in various combinations. Belcolade’s Plant-Based White Couverture boasts distinctively versatile properties and so can be formed into truly delicious, creative products without compromising on texture, appearance, or quality. Offering customers more choice than ever, it is suitable for pralines, hollow figures, tablets, coatings, mousses, ganaches, dipping and flavouring.”

Significantly, the Puratos research concluded that growth in the segment was down to public perceptions of  health and well-being, sustainability, and ethical concerns within cocoa supply chains.  The latest data found that 60% of consumers believe plant-based food has a positive impact on the environment, while 56% perceive it to be healthier than animal-based food. Regardless of motivation, the appetite for these products is growing.

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