Healthy indulgence: Chocolate & confectionery

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04 Apr 2018 --- According to statistics from the US National Confectioners Association, chocolate sales represent at least 75 percent of Valentine’s Day candy purchases, while Easter comes with a strong side of chocolate eggs, and chocolate coins and candy canes often fill children’s Christmas stockings. And although chocolate and confectionary are big business all year round, the industry has also had to adapt to the realities that have come with the number one trend for 2018, as identified by Innova Market Insights: mindful choices. This reflects a consumer who wants to indulge, but healthily.

 In this confectionery report on Healthy Indulgence, NutritionInsight will look into how manufacturers are striving to meet consumer demands for indulgent, yet healthy products. Common strategies include reducing sugar and fat content or combining confectionery treats with healthy additions to create indulgence that comes with a “good-for-you” feeling.

Favorite treats, such as Oreos have even been re-launched with “thin” claim variations: “Oreo thins.” This biscuit markets the well-known indulgent product with a “thin” and “delicate” claim, appealing to a consumer that wants to enjoy their treat but “lightly.”

Similarly, Innova Market Insights data reports that “lightly” claims in global snack launches have doubled from 2012 to 2016. Brands jumping on this bandwagon include Lays, Planters and Ryvita.

Functional confectionery?
Fortified and functional food products are very trendy, and confectionery and chocolate seem to be no expectation. Colombia based chocolate ingredient firm CasaLuker, speaks to NutritionInsight about their new, health-based range: Vitalcoa.

The range is inspired by the medicinal use of cocoa in ancient times and offers a cocoa powder with six times more antioxidants than normal cocoa, as well as a fiber product that is derived from cocoa. 

“We have found during at least 14 or 15 different pieces of research in the last 11 years that cacao has really good health benefits: for example, cardiovascular benefits, skin health, some related to anti-inflammatory effects and, of course, the digestive system,” says David Jaramillo from Vitalcao.

In this way, the company is highlighting the substantial natural health benefits of its products, but the fact still stands that it is cocoa, and it is still marketed as an indulgence.

Another angle for casting a health shadow on confectioneries is to pair them with well-known, good-for-you products, to appeal to a market of healthy indulgers. The World of Food Ingredients has reported that consumers, and especially millennials, are incentivized to buy chocolate when it features nuts, as it appeals to their character of “balance.”

“The pairing of chocolate and nuts for a premium confectionery experience has been enjoyed for years, but brands are now tapping into the combination with health claims in mind.”

For example, chocolatier Barry Callebaut markets its confectionary from a wholesome standpoint that “lets the goodies stand-out.” This translates to products that are clearly indulgent – chocolate bars, bites and biscuits – and are strewn with visible “goodies” such as nuts, dried fruits or cocoa nibs.

In this way, you are getting the best of both worlds.

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Healthy Indulgence NPD: Nestle Skinny Cow
Divines Literally Lustworthy Caramel Filled Chocolate 

Slashing on Sugar 
As well as adding “goodies” to confectionery to project that healthy feeling, there has also been a quick push to reduce sugar content, especially in light of the sugar tax that will descend on the UK in a matter of days. Innova Market Insights consumer research conducted in 2016 found that 28 percent of UK consumers pay attention to sugar levels when purchasing a confectionery product and 23 percent pay attention when buying a chocolate product. 

A low/no/reduced sugar claim was found to be the most critical influencer for the sugar confectionery purchasing habits of 23 percent of UK consumers in 2016, well ahead of indulgence claims (13 percent) and low/no/reduced fat claim (10 percent).

For example, our sister website, FoodIngredientsFirst, has reported on the “scientific breakthrough” bar from Nestle, “Milkybar Wowsomes" which has 30 percent less sugar than other similar confectionery products on the market.

The bar utilizes Nestles innovative sugar reduction technique: “Experts created aerated, porous particles of sugar that dissolve more quickly in the mouth and on the tongue. This allows someone to perceive the same level of sweetness as before, but with much less of the ingredient and consuming less sugar.”

“The new technology takes normal sugar and sprays it into the air with added milk and water which results in a porous product that is easier to dissolve in water, i.e., saliva.” 

This mirrors other Nestle products on the market, which have had the equivalent of 2.6 billion teaspoons of sugar being slashed through innovative reformulations, demonstrating that you can have the sweet, without the sugar.

Furthermore, NutritionInsight spoke with Carola K. Herbst from the DLG’s (German Agricultural Society) Food Competence Center, who expanded on this line of thought: consumers want reduced sugar claims, but the taste must match the previous, full-sugared product. How can this be achieved?

Herbst detailed technologies that manufacturers could employ to deliver a reduced claim product that is remains tasty and indulgent. This is increasingly important to consumers, and, due to the incoming sugar tax in Britain, practically significant to manufacturers as well. 

“There are many technological ways to handle the situation. For example, when you reduce the sugar content, the mouthfeel and smell, and how these areas interact, may be different. You could put in some vanilla to counteract the sugar reduction, so the customer still has a sweet sensation. You could also use an alternative, such as aspartame,” says Herbst.

Filing away the fat
Although fats have been experiencing a decisive moment in the spotlight, with the substantial health benefits of the omegas, nuts and avocados, for example, being touted in the mainstream, “bad” fats remain.

For example, the SAFA (Palm oil and saturated fats) are not required by the body and many health organizations advise for them to be limited, or reduced in the diet.

Confectionery can typically contain undesirable levels of SAFA for the healthy indulger, and reduced fat claims still appeal in this realm, although reduced sugar claims lead the way in consumer attention.

NutritionInsight spoke to Pedro Leal, Sales Director of IOI Loders Croklaan Europe, about their innovative low SAFA confectionary filling fat. This filling, they say, is aimed at a premium, healthier filled chocolate.

“Filled chocolate and puff pastry production will always be about indulgence, but creating healthier ingredients for these markets was key for our product development in recent years.”
“With the Creamelt 600 LS we can reduce the fat percentage by as much as 20 percent in the chocolate recipe as well as lower the overall SAFA to almost half of the market standard,” he adds.

The Creamelt 600 LS contains crystal network structures that enable liquid oil with low SAFA content to be trapped. This enhances the applicability of the product, as commonly, low SAFA products are limited due to the difficulties that come with production and fat engineering.

“Consumers seek healthier confectionery products without compromising on indulgence. Creamelt 600 LS helps the confectionery industry reduce the saturated fat content of its products while maintaining full flavor and texture,” says Pedro.

Overall, it appears that a range of companies are engaging with products that are not only indulgent but offer health benefits too. The future for NPD is bright, as the technological and flavor possibilities are vast. For example, companies are not limited to slashing calories, sugar or fat in bids to ease up on the indulgent side of a product, in favor of health. Quite the contrary, manufacturers can also embellish their indulgent treats with healthier items, such as nuts and superfoods. The techniques of supplying consumers with healthy, indulgent products are diverse, which is sure to make the modern consumer happy.
 
By Laxmi Haigh, additional reporting by Paul Creasy

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