- Barry Callebaut is debuting Caramel Aura, a caramelized white chocolate that is colored and flavored with caramelized milk powder and sugar. The premium line includes melting chocolates, which can be used for applications such as molding, enrobing, drizzling, bottoming or panning, and chips for baked goods, trail mixes or other snacks.
- The producer of cocoa and cocoa products debuted Caramel Aura along with its new Indulgence Playbook. The platform highlights ways manufacturers can elevate familiar, comforting flavors in a premium way; tap into them as a proxy for quality; offer classic flavors in a new expression or format; focus on ingredient authenticity; and use sustainability to win over younger consumers.
- Despite the struggle between consumers' search for comfort and premium experiences during the pandemic, the new chocolate offering allows Barry Callebaut to show food manufacturers they can straddle both desires by rethinking their approach to familiar flavors.
Sweet, creamy and mild caramel is perhaps one of the most nonpolarizing flavors in food and beverages. According to 2021 research from Mintel cited by Barry Callebaut in its Indulgence Playbook, caramel is the top flavor claim in North American product launches after chocolate and unflavored. It also ranks as a top choice in seasonal chocolate; snacks, cereals and energy bars; ice cream and frozen yogurt; and individually wrapped chocolate and tablets.
This made caramel the ideal flavor for Barry Callebaut to elevate through chocolate, presenters said at a webinar this week announcing the debut of Caramel Aura and the Indulgence Playbook. They noted caramel's sustaining appeal to consumers throughout the different phases of the pandemic.
"It's an established and growing flavor, both before and during COVID, and we see this continuing as a trend post-COVID as well," said Chiara Calcagnini, associate brand manager for Barry Callebaut. "And what's more, it's an easy and delicious way to leverage premium."
According to Mintel, nearly 44% of product launches between 2018 and 2021 with a label claim of "caramel" in North America were in confectionery products and more than 36% in desserts and ice cream. This year, most caramel claim launches are happening in the latter segment, the market research firm said.
Calcagnini said Caramel Aura was real chocolate, with no added color or flavor.
"Its signature golden hue and warm flavor are obtained purely from the caramelization process of sugar and milk, resulting in an indulgent, creamy, warm and decadent experience, perfect for those looking for a premium, comforting treats or a piece of their sense of nostalgia," she said.
Caramel Aura melts are 28% cacao and 32% milk, while the chips have a 22% cacao content. Both are made with 100% sustainably sourced cacao certified through Barry Callebaut's Cocoa Horizons Foundation.
During the webinar, Charlotte Green, market segment developer for confectionery at the company, discussed the higher expectations for companies' sustainability practices by consumers, especially among younger generations.
"Over 40% of chocolate launches have an ethical claim from a human perspective," she said, noting that most relate to support of cocoa farmers. By adopting a sustainability claim, manufacturers can not only "future-proof" their business, but also elevate the premium feel of their products while giving consumers permission to indulge, she said.
"It's valuable for your next indulgence, innovation, or renovation, because sustainability has a halo effect on the quality," she said.
It's likely a big reason why Barry Callebaut announced in July that all of its North American better-for-you portfolio would use sustainably sourced cocoa and vanilla.
Caramelized white chocolate has been available overseas, but Caramel Aura marks the ingredient's domestic arrival for Barry Callebaut. In a separate event after the webinar, Laura Bergan, director of innovation and specialty marketing, said the first products to use Caramel Aura should start hitting retail shelves within the next year.
The debut of Caramel Aura continues the innovation push for Barry Callebaut just as Peter Boone is about to take over as CEO, this September. The executive, who has led the Americas region of the chocolate manufacturer since 2017, was involved in the introduction of Barry Callebaut's ruby chocolate. The pink-hued offering, produced from specially processed cacao beans grown in Brazil, Ecuador and the Ivory Coast, made its U.S. debut in 2019.