Confectioners have long tried to create low-sugar chocolate to cater for health-conscious consumers, to little success. Now, one of the industry’s giants says it may have figured it out.
Barry Callebaut AG, which supplies some of the biggest names in food, says it has developed chocolate with half as much sugar than in most of what’s eaten around the world. The new chocolate contains more cocoa and fewer ingredients, and should hit stores in 12 to 18 months’ time, Chief Executive Officer Peter Boone said.
“We really bring it back to two or three ingredients, which has never been done before,” Boone said in an interview. “It’s a much simpler label. So the dark chocolates will only have two noble ingredients as we call it, just the cocoa and sugar.”
The food sector is under pressure to deliver healthier options as investors step up scrutiny of consumer goods and shoppers opt to cut back on sugary and fatty foods. The Covid pandemic has also highlighted the need to better think about health and improve diets.
But low-sugar chocolate has been a challenge because the sweetener is used to mask the inherent bitterness of cocoa beans. Nestle SA’s Milkybar Wowsomes -- an attempt at using sugar-reduction technology -- were discontinued after about a year because they didn’t offer the same creaminess of full-sugar chocolate.
Dark chocolate consists of at least three-quarters of cocoa, to which sugar is added, while milk chocolate contains a minimum of 55% of cocoa and is mixed with milk and sugar. Those formulas have been used for some 140 years.
But Barry Callebaut’s “second generation” of chocolate contains 50% less sugar than 85% of the chocolate currently consumed, it said Thursday. The Swiss company developed a new product design which starts with carefully sourcing the right kind of cocoa beans and then adapting the fermentation and roasting.
The processor has unveiled a number of innovations in recent years, including pink-colored ruby chocolate and WholeFruit chocolate.
“We have really been able to get the acidity and the bitterness out to really make it a very round nice cocoa flavor without sugar,” said Boone, who became CEO in 2021 and was previously the company’s chief innovation officer.