BY ANNA MASING
ACTING HEAD OF FOOD & BEVERAGE, STYLUS
As consumer awareness of health and wellness rises, confectionery brands need to adapt in order to catch up with changing demands.
Confectionery companies face the need for sugar reduction and the increasing popularity of additions such as CBD, which is dramatically changing this long-established sector.
Anna Masing explores how the sector is embracing functional and health benefits.
Functionality will take the form of dietary sensitivities and awareness. With a continued rise in dairy-free products brands will look to create the same mouthfeel enjoyment of classic dairy treats, but available for lactose intolerant and vegan consumers. Other food tolerance and insensitivities will also be explored more with the confectionery sector in the next few years.
And vegan doesn’t need to mean healthy, intolerance and allergies shouldn’t mean lack of fun (or having to make your own treats!) – functionality in confectionary will be about inclusivity.
Health and wellness
One of the biggest challenges facing confectionery companies is the war on sugar. Health-conscious consumers are demanding products with less sugar, salt and fat – compelling companies across the food and drink industry to develop new flavour substitutes (and flavour ‘maskers’ when these taste unappealing).
Acknowledging the shift away from sugar, snacking companies are creating sweet treats with additional benefits. Quebec chocolatier ChocMod’s Snacking Chocolate range combines the cocoa used in its signature truffles with superfoods like cranberries, blueberries and quinoa. Unlike its primary line Truffettes de France, which is sold as confectionery, the new brand is intended for the snack aisle.
Also leveraging the health benefits of fruit, Bristol-based chocolate producer Adam has created a range of organic cold-pressed chocolate, where cocoa beans are pressed before roasting at a temperature below 42 degrees to retain the raw cacao’s high levels of antioxidants and intricate flavour profile. The brand taps into the trend for healthy indulgence.
Confectionery brands are also experimenting with substitute ingredients as a way to reduce sugar content. Finnish vegan chocolate company Goodio has introduced ChocOat, claimed to be a first-of-its-kind non-dairy chocolate that uses organic oats instead of milk. Goodio says that while it mimics the smooth, velvety texture of milk chocolate, it contains nearly 60% less sugar than a traditional milk bar. While the product might not use traditional ingredients, it is executed to the exacting status of artisanal.
Nestlé is looking at ways to reduce sugar content by using hollow sugar particles, which dissolve faster than standard sugar to deliver a sweeter sensation more quickly. Hollow sugar could revolutionise chocolate confectionery – but only if the resulting product’s sensory qualities are unchanged.
Consumers are increasingly looking to combine health with a sense of treat. Healthy decadence has been a key theme at speciality food expos recently, and the mass market is following consumers seeking a treat and a nutritional benefit all in one.
Chocolate-covered dried fruit and nuts are proliferating, as are date-sweetened, protein-rich bites. LA health-bar maker That’s It is offering Truffle Bites, combining organic dark chocolate with various fruits, including blueberry and apple, and cherry and apple.
We’re starting to see brands, particularly smaller names, developing vegan options for consumers who forego dairy. Swiss chocolatier Chocolat Stella has won awards for its almond-based white chocolate bar, while Californian confectioner Cocoa Parlor is developing vegan white chocolate bars studded with roasted cashews, freeze-dried strawberries and cinnamon.
The vegan trend shows no sign of abating, and consumers are looking for alternatives to their favourite treats. There’s a real, still largely untapped, opportunity for mass as much as independent players in this space.
As consumers gain a greater appreciation for gut health and focus on physical well-being and performance, we’re seeing a growing demand for high-protein products. Snack claims around protein saw significant year-on-year growth in 2017, according to IRI. While still nascent, we have started to see some big-names brands capitalising on this trend, with Cadbury and Nestle both offering high-protein versions of popular chocolate bars such as Boost, Mars, Snickers and more.
Consumers are wising up to the benefits of protein as a valuable energy supplement – whether for workouts or the workday. There’s huge mileage here for confectionery brands.
As cannabis becomes broadly legalised, we’re seeing innovative applications of the THC and CBD elements of the plant emerge. Some of the best examples so far come from the high-end confectionery market. Californian master chocolatier Défoncé’s artisanal bars and San Diego start-up B-Edibles’ cannabis-infused candyfloss are two great examples.
Cannabis is becoming big business and will demand innovation as marijuana consumers with a sweet tooth look for ultra-indulgent treats.
Through the detail of ingredients, brands are able to add a luxury edge when it comes to confectionery. H2Coco, for example, harnesses specific minerals within coconuts to create a very particular, high-quality pink coconut water.
Exploring indigenous ingredients, or less used elements, is another way for brands to incorporate a luxury-edge, offering something that is harder to come by.
Ruby chocolate is a good example of this. Swiss chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut has developed and patented a pink chocolate bar, using ruby cocoa beans, with no flavours or colours added. It has a sweet, berry flavour profile similar to white chocolate, but with a bitter aftertaste that emulates dark chocolate.
While it’s not a confectionery example, The Australian Superfood Co is an interesting example of leveraging native herbs. The brand offers a range of concentrated form native herb and fruit liquid extracts that are designed be added to drinks and baking. The Mountain Pepper Leaf extract has a spicy, earthy flavour and contains vitamin E, zinc, magnesium and calcium.
The rarity of the ingredients and connection to health benefits imbue the product with a luxury edge that will appeal to consumers looking for something a bit different.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019