- Unilever's Magnum ice cream brand is the first major CPG company launching a ruby chocolate ice cream treat. The Magnum Ruby Minis are in some grocery store freezer cases now and will be available nationwide next month, the company says.
- The new bars feature sweet cream ice cream, developed to complement ruby's unique flavor, with a coating made of the pink chocolate variety.
- Magnum Ruby Minis will also be sold online in select cities beginning Jan. 23 through GoPuff or The Ice Cream Shop. Later in the spring, delivery will be available across the country.
U.S. chocolate lovers, it is time: Ruby chocolate is finally coming to the masses through a CPG launch.
Ruby, which is described as the fourth type of chocolate, comes from a distinct cacao bean discovered by scientists working at global chocolatier Barry Callebaut more than a generation ago. In recent years, the company discovered how to process these beans and produce dark-pink-hued ruby chocolate, which has a distinct tart taste reminiscent of berries.
The chocolate was officially unveiled in Asia in 2017, and Japanese consumers have been able to buy it for more than two years. Soon after, it also rolled out across Europe, Australia, Africa and South America, but hit a labeling stumbling block in the U.S. The FDA would not permit the confection to be labeled as "chocolate," which has a strict definition in federal regulations.
About a year ago, Barry Callebaut partnered with a few high-end chocolate makers in the U.S. to produce a limited stock of the pink chocolate for the country. It was labeled "ruby cacao" or "ruby couverture" so it didn't violate regulations.
In May, the chocolate supplier announced it would make ruby widely available in the U.S. and Canada, despite not yet getting the labeling clearance it was seeking. The new Magnum bars seem to be the first big U.S. CPG product launch with ruby. And despite the FDA last month granting Barry Callebaut a temporary marketing permit allowing it to label up to 60 million pounds of the confection "ruby chocolate," the press release and packaging of the Magnum product label it "ruby cacao."
While Barry Callebaut is providing ruby chocolate to any confectioner that wants it, Laura Bergan, the company's director of innovation for specialties marketing, told Food Dive last year that ruby is expected to stay in the premium market. This makes Magnum a fit to take it on first. The brand defines itself as luxurious, decadent and premium, using Belgian chocolate and top-of-the-line ingredients for its ice cream.
Even though the new ruby bars are using the exclusive chocolate, their price will be in line with the company's other offerings. For a package of six Magnum Ruby Minis, the company lists a suggested retail price of $4.99.
While this is the first big offering of the pink confection, it is not likely to be the last. As grocery store shelves crowded with heart-shaped boxes clearly show, Valentine's Day is about a month away. And according to data from the National Retail Federation, 52% of people who celebrated the holiday last year planned to spend about $1.8 billion on candy. NRF stats show fewer people chose to celebrate Valentine's Day last year — yet more total money was spent — so premium pink chocolates could be a way to send hearts and wallets aflutter.
Even outside of holidays celebrated with pink hearts and chocolate, ruby is bound to be popular. Nestlé was among the first CPG manufacturers to use ruby outside of the U.S., and it's been adding it to its products in response to brisk demand. Barry Callebaut keeps a collection of pictures of uses for the chocolate around the world on its website, and as more U.S. confectioners experiment with it, more creative ideas are guaranteed to fill this page.