- Barry Callebaut has introduced Bensdorp Natural Dark, a cocoa powder processed without alkali and meant for bakery and pastry applications, beverages and ice cream.
- The company said in a release the new product enables food manufacturers to deliver rich flavor in a variety of products while offering a clean label.
- According to the press release, the Swiss chocolate company has been working on this ingredient for years. "Our biggest challenge was to create a cocoa powder that not only delivers a natural dark brown color but brings a rich, chocolaty flavor that our customers can confidently use across all major applications," Global Cocoa President Steven Retzlaff said in the release.
Barry Callebaut is positioning this new dark cocoa powder as a more healthful product with a cleaner label — qualities consumers increasingly want in their food products. Before this, dark cocoa powder was made by "Dutching," or using alkalization to lower its acidity, according to Food Ingredients 1st. But as a growing number of people want to avoid what they see as chemical processes, this cocoa may appeal to consumers.
Premium colors and flavors are assets food and drink makers may be seeking since they convey higher quality and could command a higher price.
Darker chocolate, along with raw and organic varieties, is sometimes viewed as a better-for-you product in the inherently indulgent category. A 2017 report from Research and Markets forecast a 2.4% annual growth rate for the global chocolate market through 2021, with a special interest in healthier options.
Doubling down on the better-for-you elements, Barry Callebaut petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration earlier this year for a qualified health claim for cocoa powder, semi-sweet and dark chocolate products. The company said it found supportive but inconclusive scientific evidence suggesting that consuming at least 200 milligrams of cocoa flavanols daily may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. The FDA petition is still in review, but if it moves forward, this new cocoa powder could be looking to have a health claim.
Barry Callebaut clearly had cleaner labels in mind when it developed Bensdorp Natural Dark. Leanne de Muijnck, the company's global director of cocoa R&D, told Food Ingredients 1st consumers increasingly want to see a limited amount of ingredients in order to better understand how their food is processed.
"We haven’t seen the peak of the clean label at all — it’s still rising. It has different traction in various countries, but it is still a global trend," she told the publication.
Other cocoa manufacturers such as Kerry are expanding their category offerings to manufacturers, so Barry Callebaut will continue to face competition. However, the larger challenge may be sustainability and supply since the cocoa industry has been dealing with higher prices, impacts of climate change and charges of child labor and deforestation.
Meanwhile, demand continues to grow as premium chocolate varieties and dark chocolate options increase in popularity. The U.S. chocolate market, which is the world's largest, was valued at about $22 billion in 2016, according to a TechSci report, and it is projected to exceed $30 billion by 2021. That growth rate could boost Barry Callebaut as it continues to launch on-trend products.