- The Kerry Group is expanding and upgrading its cocoa offerings in 2019 as consumer demand for chocolate increases, according to Food Ingredients First.
- Chocolate is a top flavor in new product launches in beverage, bakery and confectionery items. It remains "one of the most important and widely used ingredients in the sweet and beverage industry," the site reported. As the demand for cocoa ingredients — particularly those certified as organic — exceeds supply, the price is going up and Kerry is working directly with suppliers to maximize flexibility.
- “We are continuing to extend and adapt our offerings to fulfill consumer expectations of cocoa preferences by regions and countries, but we also aim to deliver to emerging consumers looking for new experiences with more origin." Michel Aubaunel, global development manager for Kerry Flavor Ingredients, told Food Ingredients First.
Kerry has the background and experience with sourcing cocoa and extracting it, so it will likely be able to provide an array of cocoa extracts to its customers who are using them in liquid, powder or granulated form. Among the recent applications for such ingredients are ice cream, confectionery, soft drinks, yogurt, desserts, fillings, nutritional drinks and even savory products.
But the global cocoa crop is experiencing growing challenges from climate change, as well as forest destruction, child labor and low farmer incomes. At the same time, cocoa demand is soaring as premium varieties, dark chocolate options and sugar-free products grow in popularity. The U.S. market for chocolate was valued at about $22 billion in 2016, but it is projected to eclipse $30 billion by 2021, according to TechSci Research.
While chocolate products containing sugar or other sweeteners are usually viewed as indulgent treats, some consumers see forms of cocoa as a healthy addition to their diet — especially when it comes to raw and dark chocolate. 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.
Demand for cocoa is already high, so marketing products containing the ingredient as a healthy dietary addition may be not be as effective as some hope. But manufacturers using the ingredient may want to highlight the diversity of tastes and sourcing so consumers notice the different origins of the product and try each one out. It could be interesting from a culinary perspective, and also financially rewarding for those companies already in the space, if the ingredient list is pared down to the clean-label level and information is provided on where the product is from.
There is speculation that if certain agricultural measures aren't taken to keep cacao trees cool, diversify the crop, breed hardier trees that can tolerate warmer conditions and emphasize irrigation, then cocoa prices could get out of hand by 2030. That scenario would likely not be welcomed by Kerry, Hershey or any other manufacturers using cocoa — nor by the millions of cocoa fans worldwide.
As Kerry works to expand its offerings, it will need to keep in mind where it gets its cocoa from. It may need to do more to plan ahead for the future as demand grows and sourcing becomes more difficult. Kerry helps businesses make changes to their products when it comes to ingredients, so the Irish company may have a lengthy list of sources it can tap into to help beverage, bakery and confectionery companies in a way that is cost effective. If it can do that, it may be able to grab a bigger market share of the burgeoning chocolate market.