A new report from Innova Market Insights highlights the growing sophistication of many of Europe’s chocolate shoppers, with a push towards premium and indulgent products clearly reflected in new product development (NPD). For example, activity in chocolate blocks continues to grow and they represented 45% of the region’s launches in 2018, while wrapped chocolates showed fastest growth in launch numbers between 2014 and 2018. At the same time, NPD in more everyday chocolate bars or countlines (a chocolate-based bar) has been sliding.
Premiumization of the market is further indicated by growing use of dark chocolate, which increased its penetration from 25% to 35% of launches between 2014 and 2018, while there was a comparative drop in milk chocolate products, down from 71% to 59%.
But it is no longer the case that innovators are restricted to simple milk, dark, or white chocolate types. “Limits in chocolate development are being broken down,” said Lu Ann Williams, head of innovation at Innova Market Insights. “Ruby chocolate has emerged as an entirely new concept within chocolate formulation, while dark milk choices are also hitting the shelves, offering a halfway point between rich dark and smooth milk recipes.”
Meanwhile, Barry Callebaut—creator of ruby chocolate in 2018—has followed up with the introduction of WholeFruit chocolate, which it claims is the first to use the entire cacao fruit, rather than just the beans. This results in a fruitier flavor and will also appeal to eco-conscious customers as it reduces waste. The United States will see the first use of WholeFruit chocolate, but as soon as European approvals are achieved, the region’s ‘chocoisseurs’ will certainly be ready for it.
The NC Food Innovation Lab (NCFIL) will open on November 14, with a ribbon cutting, facility tour, and open house celebration. NCFIL is a 16,000-square-foot plant-based food processing and product development facility located on the 350-acre North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis, N.C.
Cargill has opened a Culinary Experience Hub in its R&D site in Vilvoorde, Belgium, to better serve its customers across the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) region.
Nestlé has entered into a partnership with Corbion to develop the next generation of microalgae-based ingredients, enabling the company to deliver sustainable, tasty, and nutritious plant-based products.
Kemin Industries, a global ingredient manufacturer, has opened an innovation and technology center at its regional headquarters in Zhuhai, China.
Puratos has announced the opening of its newest innovation center in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago.