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Top 4 Innovations in Chocolate Ingredients & Products

October 19, 2020 | Food & Beverages

The growth of the chocolate confectionery industry has been promising and indefinite, as this sector is unrestricted by age. For more than a decade, the chocolate confectionery market has shown a steady growth due to various innovations in the industry. Several trends help in driving the growth of this market such as vegan chocolates or no animal products, innovative ingredients and flavors, and single-origin/premium chocolate ingredients.


Consumers are desired to try new flavors in their food, hence the demand for innovative chocolate flavors rose. There is always a surging demand for chocolate products among the buyers, which has facilitated the demand for improved flavors and ingredients. Inclusion of cleaner ingredients, indulging flavors and flavor combinations, and usage of rare and fine cocoa are certain trends adopted by the manufacturers to provide healthier chocolate options for the buyers.


As per the study conducted by Fortune Business Insights, the global chocolate confectionery market size stood at USD 114.33 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach USD 136.42 billion by 2027, exhibiting a CAGR of 2.3% during the forecast period from 2020 to 2027. The market is primarily driven by evolving consumer preferences for innovative confectionery products.


Trends and Innovations in the Industry: Introduction of Healthy Ingredients to Satiate your Sweet Tooth


The new innovative ingredients used in the chocolate industry include citrus flavors, vegetables, nuts, cereals, unusual fruits, rare cocoa, florals, a combination of flavors, and others. Usage of healthy ingredients such as stevia, honey, lactose-free chocolate ingredients, usage of non-hydrogenated fats, and others in the chocolate products have attracted the diabetic population.


These innovations notably help in driving the growth of various chocolate products.


Savory Over Sweet: Demand for Unique Flavors to Drive the Market


Savory is one of the common flavors that the consumers demand in their snack products. Considering chocolates being widely consumed as a snack in various countries seeks the inclusion of savory ingredients. These savory flavors are obtained from a combination of flavors such as salt and sweet, fruits and botanicals, and hot and spicy. The demand for flavor inclusions has always dominated the demand for plain chocolates. Craft chocolate makers have recognized these demands and are incorporating these new flavors in their products. Salted caramel and sea salt continue to be the popular flavors. Chili, turmeric, and ginger flavors are the innovative flavor blends in the industry.  


The flavor blends such as cheese and dark chocolate, passionfruit and lime salt, beer and chocolate, smoked and BBQ chocolate, red wine and marzipan, and others are products launched by the chocolate manufacturers. These products help demonstrate that chocolate serves as a great base for layering and building new flavors.


Sugar Alternative Solutions: Demand from the Diabetic and Obese Population


Sugar alternatives have gained immense popularity in the chocolate industry. As the rate of diabetic population increases, the demand for sugar alternatives increases too. The most popular claim in the battle of sugar is “low/no sugar”, which is expected to increase in the upcoming years. Consumers appear to be comfortable with naturally present sweet flavors in the chocolates, as compared to any chemical sugar alternatives. Whereas, the usage of natural sweeteners such as honey and stevia has gained more popularity in the confectionery industry.


The below graph shows the growth of the U.S. diabetic population from the period 2010 – 2050 based on various factors such as population growth, demographic changes, and an increase in the prevalence rate. By 2050, there will be an additional 18 Mn people diagnosed with diabetes. The minority groups and the elderly population are already the most affected and are likely to increase at a rapid rate by 2050.


Figure 01: U.S. Diabetes Population Growth from 2010 – 2050 (%)



Source: American Diabetes Association


According to the below data, the growth rate of the obese population is high and is rapidly increasing in developing countries. The estimates recorded from the WHO (World Health Organization) were 650 million obese and 1.9 billion overweight population, worldwide in 2016. The growth rate of the U.S. remains the top marking 28%, followed by Canada, the U.K., Brazil, and Spain.


In 2019, around 38 million children reported childhood obesity and overweight. In 2016, over 340 million adolescents and children aged 5-19 years were overweight or obese. The primary reason for the increase in the obese rate is an increase in the intake of energy-dense food such as sugars and fat.


Sustainable and Clean Ingredients: Rising Trend for Clean-label Products


Organic ingredients are seen more natural and healthier, hence there is a continued demand for organic cocoa and chocolate ingredients. This trend is mainly observed in the U.K., Germany, and France as the trend progresses to a broader range of products. The biggest organic growth is seen in ice creams and chocolate confectioneries.


Apart from the organic products, the clean and clear labeling trend is observed to have high growth. An understandable and clear ingredient label provides great opportunities to add value to the food product. Usage of real and natural ingredients such as fruits and plants provides a natural taste to the chocolates and is one of the ways to deliver cleaner chocolates. To reassure, companies claim that their products are“made using real fruit/vegetable” on the front side of the packaging to attract consumers.


Manufacturers are cutting down the usage of chemical additives such as emulsifiers and preservatives in the cocoa products. Many companies are utilizing sunflower lecithin, which is healthier and a cleaner ingredient in the chocolate products. Few major companies like Cargill have gone a step ahead and removed lecithin from its cocoa and chocolate offerings. For the consumer who prefers less processed food, usage of raw cacao is trending. This is made by slow roasting cacao and cold pressing it to obtain the extracts. This way all the nutritional content is preserved.


According to Global Clean Label Consumer Study 2019 by Ingredion, 78% of 600 consumers said that it is important to have some knowledge about the ingredients beforehand while purchasing a product. According to the Institute of Food Technologists Organization, in 2018 globally more than 50% of the product launches claimed to be clean labels.


Improved Healthy Solutions: Usage of Healthy Ingredients and Cannabis


Although still niche, the usage of vegetables in chocolates is gaining popularity in Asian countries especially China. One of the vegetable-chocolate combos are potato chips and chocolate. This is a snacking option and provides a salty flavor. Similarly, edamame and chocolate, wasabi and chocolate, and purple sweet potato and white chocolate are certain popular vegetable chocolate combos in the Asia Pacific region.


Usage of nuts and breakfast cereals have been trending for years and is still expected to dominate in terms of their growth. Hazelnut being the top ingredients among the nut category, followed by peanuts and almonds. Pistachios are also being utilized as one of the ingredients in many chocolates and nuts and seed blends in cocoa products. There a lot of cereals that are used as an ingredient in the chocolates for a long time, but other types of cereals are gaining popularity such as muesli, granola, and quinoa.


Recreational marijuana is trending in various European countries and different provinces in Canada. One factor which aids the growth of recreational marijuana is through edibles such as candies and chocolates.  


Industry Connect


Major players that provide these innovative chocolate ingredients are Cargill, Inc., Barry Callebaut AG, The Hershey Co., Mars Incorporated, Hackettstown, Nestle SA, Ferrero USA, Ryohin Keikaku Co., Ltd., Kiva Confections, Défoncé, and others. Companies in the industry are investing in R&D activities to launch innovative products to meet the requirements of a specific group of consumers across the world.


Some of the Developments in the Innovative Chocolate Products and Ingredients Category (2018 – 2020):



  • In August 2020, Halo Labs Inc. announced its acquisition of Outer Galactic Chocolates, LLC. This acquisition helped the company to produce various cannabis infused chocolates and edibles.

  • In April 2020, Kinnerton (Confectionery) Company Limited launched its first vegan chocolate which claims to be a free- from foods.

  • In March 2020 Undercover Chocolate Co., LLC, launched a new pomegranate flavored dark chocolate and is sold only on online retail.

  • In February 2020, Kind LLC launched a variety of flavor blend chocolates such as dark chocolate with sea salt and almonds, salted caramel and almonds, and roasted peanuts.

  • In December 2019, Nestlé SA launched KitKat Chocolatory Cacao Fruit Chocolate in Japan. This chocolate is entirely made from cacao fruit.

  • In September 2019, Barry Callebaut AG launched its clean label cocoa powder produced from chicory root fibers.

  • In September 2019, Barry Callebaut AG launched two varieties of chocolate which are sweetened using cacao fruit. These chocolates are sugar-free.

  • In August 2019, General Mills, Inc. launched a range of chocolate products under its brand name Natural Valley. These chocolate products had various healthy ingredients such as oats, dark chocolate, and granola.

  • In August 2018, Divine Chocolate Limited launched a variety of organic chocolate bars.

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