Barry Callebaut redefines chocolate production for the mindful consumer


28 Oct 2022 — Chocolate and cocoa giant Barry Callebaut has ushered in a new era of innovation with the reveal of its second-generation chocolate in Venice, Italy, this week. The company has reinvented chocolate production from farm to roasting, which honors the “mindful consumption” movement where consumers want to indulge in chocolate that is clean label, has less sugar, is sustainably produced and factors in provenance. 

The Cocoa Cultivation & Craft (CCC) concept is set to drive an industry shift in how cocoa is produced and facilitate the synbiotic lifestyle consumers increasingly seek.

The concept was compared to the processes developed by Venetian glass blowers and gondolier makers which have been developed over centuries, to demonstrate how production evolves and is refined over time.

Speaking live to FoodIngredientsFirst at the Renaissance of Cocoa event, Marcello Corno, head of R&D, says: “Until now, these production steps have been difficult to manage. Most of them have been in the hands of farmers and we had minimal quality control. You have to be really close to the ground in the country of origin to influence these steps, and fortunately for us, we are and we can have an influence.”

“Through countless studies and research, we now know that both the length of time and the temperature are critical if you want a consistently high-quality result. We also need the right level of sugar during fermentation,” Corno explains. 

This second-generation of chocolate is characterized by putting ‘cocoa first, sugar last.”The amount of time between harvesting the cocoa beans to delivering them to the factory for processing is crucial in the purity of flavor that can be extracted. The company has refined this to a maximum of eight hours to achieve pure flavor. 

Perfecting the method of drying the beans has also been pivotal in the process. One wrong step and the chocolate becomes bitter and acidic. “We’ve been tinkering with these early stages of the production process for a long time to see what we can improve on,” notes Corno. With initial efforts dating back to early 2000, Barry Callebaut gained insights from a long-term research program in collaboration with Jacobs University Bremen, Germany. Advanced detection technologies, combined with new sensory methods, enable the identification of unique characteristics in the cocoa beans.

“Since early 2000, we have been optimizing the fermentation process,” explains Corno. “The insights based on research recently have led us to a new fermentation protocol. Beans are fermented in their own pulp. We leave it completely up to nature with no starter culture added and we monitor everything from start to finish. This is the process that has been fine-tuned.”

In this way, the unique character and natural flavor in each bean are “awakened.” “This process happens even before we ship the beans for roasting,” Corno reveals.

Consumers crave craftsmanship
This “second-generation” of chocolate is characterized by putting ‘cocoa first, sugar last’. It allows brands and artisans to create what consumers desire: food and drinks paying homage to nature’s flavors, while supporting them to live more healthily.

Australian chef Kirsten Tibballs, regular guest panel judge on Masterchef Australia describes her confectionery creations for the launch to FoodIngredientsFirst: “This is a dark chocolate with only two ingredients. There is cocoa bean and sugar and I haven’t added any additional sugar to this dish. So I’ve really tried to hero the chocolate because it doesn’t have any bitterness – it’s absolutely beautiful.”

The dishes showcased were a 55% milk chocolate with rice paper, sesame seeds, cremeaux, mango and coriander; a 55% milk dessert with pistachio financier, chocolate mousse, pistachio crunch and rocher glaze and a 75% dark dessert with inverted puff pastry, chocolate custard.Kirsten Tibballs talks about the special fermentation process used in the CCC chocolate.

“With the cocoa beans we’re utilizing in the chocolate, they’re working on selecting beans that bear a good flavor. They’re fermented in boxes so they can really control the fermentation process, and then the roasting process is a light roast for a longer period than an intense roast. A lot of chocolate has that intense roast flavor. You’re really picking up the subtle notes and no bitterness at all.”

Mindful consumption
Recent research conducted by Foresight Factory for Barry Callebaut reveals that six in 10 consumers want to feel connected to nature, even through eating experiences. This trend is specifically evident across Germany, Sweden and Spain. 

According to Laura van Eeckhout, client partner, Foresight Factory, what is also interesting is the wider interest in nature is translating to a halo effect in the products that consumers are interested in. 

“You see a lot more focus on people wanting products which are driven by nature, powered by nature and which also really make use of expertise, skill sets and craftsmanship and do everything to get the best out of natural ingredients and natural products. It’s something we see across lots of different industries,” she explains.

“If we look more specifically at foods and beverages, it is obvious how consumers are skewing toward nature-driven ingredients, again placing a lot of value on the experts and craftsmen who can turn those ingredients into something which is really delicious – which is your meal, your beverage or another creative creation,” says van Eeckhout. 

Consumers have taken this a step further by looking for seasonal products that are locally produced.

“For example, 44% of global consumers often look for products that have authentic origins in culture, tradition or a place where they are buying food. This is very much top of mind for a significant portion of consumers,” she states.Melissa Coppel showcases her milk and dark chocolate creations using Barry Callebaut’s CCC chocolate.

Shifting chocolate consumption patterns
Barry Callebaut emphasizes the need for its chocolate creations to fit into the synbiotic lifestyle of consumers and stimulate a circular economy. 

“Living a synbiotic life means having the ability to make choices without compromising on well-being, health, the people around me or the planet,” underscores Bas Smit, global vice president, Barry Callebaut.

“The products we would like to put in their shopping baskets are simpler, they’re healthier, and it’s not a mystery how these products are made. To get to the next generation of chocolate fitting evolving consumer needs, we had to rethink how chocolate is made, had to redesign the product itself and the critical steps that have been there for decades, redesign the farming from attention and roasting, redesign cocoa cultivation craft,” says Smit. 

US chef Melissa Coppel also tells FoodIngredientsFirst: “It’s the greenest label or the cleanest label – it’s cocoa first before sugar. There’s no vanilla, nothing masking the purity of the flavor. Another thing from my perspective is the way it lets the ingredients shine.”

“I’m a chocolatier, and I was happy to learn that I don’t have to add cocoa butter, for milk (chocolate) especially. It has been formulated for chocolatiers in terms of taste and flavor.”

Coppello cites ice cream as an example of where the second generation chocolate delivers a pure chocolate flavor.

By decoding thousands of bioactive components in the cocoa bean, it will be possible to predict which bean will deliver the deepest brown color or the most intense flavor. 

To analyze approximately 10,000 chemical components of the cocoa bean, the company recently conducted a six-year research project called Cometa with Germany-based Jacobs University 

Meanwhile, Barry Callebaut also developed a cocoa pairing toolkit earlier this year that allows them to find the best cocoa to pair with a wide range of plant-based options, from rice to oat, almond and soy. The company has pegged the consumer shift to plant-based indulgence as its number one food trend this year.

By Inga de Jong, attending the press conference in Venice 

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