- White chocolate fortified with prebiotics and antioxidants could provide new product opportunities for industry, reports ConfectioneryNews.
- A study published in the Journal of Food Science found that adding prebiotics in the form of fructooligosaccharides and antioxidants from goji berry changed white chocolate’s taste and texture, but consumers still gave it high ratings. Despite goji berries’ bitter aftertaste, most scores were still above six on a nine-point scale among the 120 participants.
- The prebiotics added to the chocolate have a viscous consistency, which improves body and mouthfeel, along with health benefits. Consumers tended to rate the prebiotic chocolate most highly when it was made with sugar — rather than sucralose or stevia — and least highly when combined with goji berry.
The buzz about healthy gut bacteria keeps getting louder. While the main focus continues to be on probiotics, prebiotics — the food for beneficial bacteria — are gaining increased attention. Demand for prebiotic-containing products, such as health drinks, dairy, meat and bakery products, and infant food could drive the market to reach $7.8 billion by 2022, according to a Global Industry Analysts’ report. Meanwhile, the same firm predicts the probiotics market will exceed $63 billion that year.
As for candy, healthy chocolate is still a relatively new concept, but it has been buoyed by research into cocoa polyphenols and increasing consumer interest. A key challenge for manufacturers is the perception that health benefits should not come from an otherwise indulgent food, but this perception is shifting and companies are exploring the potential of chocolate fortified with nutrients such as fiber, protein and calcium.
In the gut health space, work to improve probiotics’ shelf life has led to the launch of several probiotic-containing chocolate brands that take the concept beyond health food. These include UK-based Ohso Good Chocolate, which has combined Belgian chocolate with probiotics.
Prebiotics do not face the same shelf-life issues, but one of the biggest barriers is a lack of consumer understanding of how prebiotics help improve gut health. Research suggests that by combining prebiotics with probiotics, the former could piggyback on probiotics’ acceptance in a number of applications, including chocolate.