- Swiss cocoa giant Barry Callebaut has introduced ruby chocolate, the first new type of chocolate since white chocolate was launched 80 years ago, according to Food Business News.
- Callebaut and his team first ran across ruby cocoa beans more than a decade ago, and has since been working to perfect the recipe. Ruby chocolate has a rosie pink color, a berry fruitiness and is smooth.
- Consumer research in the U.S., United Kingdom, China and Japan was positive for the newcomer. Callebaut concluded, telling the food publication: “Consumer research in very different markets confirms that ruby chocolate not only satisfies a new consumer need found among millennials — hedonistic indulgence — but also high purchase intent at different price points.”
Ruby chocolate is unlike any of its predecessors. Instead of a bitter or sweet flavor, the reddish-pink treat comes across as fruity, and berry-like. In addition, its color and taste are derived naturally from the ruby cocoa bean — it has no berries or color added.
This new addition to the chocolate trifecta comes at a difficult time for the industry. Hershey plans to cut 15% of its global workforce — about 2,700 jobs — during the next two years to boost profitability. And Nestle, which is looking to sell its U.S. candy business, reported its slowest sales growth in more than two decades.
The public's concern over sugar and growing distaste for packaged foods has forced some candy markers to branch out into other snacks and even outside of their own industry. Hershey has diversified beyond its standard chocolate portfolio to include premium brands like barkTHINS, meat snacks like Krave jerky and dried meat bars and better-for-you, protein-based products under the SoFit line. Even Mars, better known for its candy, has doubled-down on pet care following its announcement in January to buy the animal-hospital chain VCA Inc.for about $7.7 billion.
Still, even as consumers gravitate toward fresher foods and healthier products, chocolate remains in a strong position as people haven't given up the desire to indulge. Data from Statista shows U.S. chocolate consumption continues to steadily rise, with sales expected to reach $22.4 billion in 2017, an increase of $2.3 billion from just four years ago.
The new pink treat is expected to be especially popular with millennials. Colorful foods are in demand as these consumers place a greater value on Instagram-worthy fare. In addition, it’s a natural product made with the traditional chocolate process. Millennials increasingly look for clean labels, which could help ruby chocolate sales even more.
If this new type of chocolate takes off, will manufacturers be able to keep up with demand? Ruby cocoa beans are sourced from Ivory Coast, Ecuador and Brazil. There are no numbers available on the current crop, but it must have been sufficient to provide enough beans for the Sept. 5th launch.
If Ruby chocolate flies off store shelves, manufacturers will look for more beans. Ivory Coast, in particular, may be quick to swap out plants for the new ruby cocoa bean if demand warrants the change. A large global surplus of traditional cocoa beans has resulted in prices being slashed 36% for farmers for their April crop. It's a good bet that some producers would be eager to make up for the loss.
Ruby chocolate has the potential to help resuscitate the struggling business. Look for confectionary giants to jump on board this trend, if it shows even a hint of success.