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Kerry expands its offerings for consumers seeking new experiences with a stronger origin story

Zoom in font  Zoom out font Published: 2019-01-24  Views: 14
Core Tip: Even though cocoa has been around for thousands of years, it is still one of the most important and widely used ingredients in the sweet and beverage industry.
Even though cocoa has been around for thousands of years, it is still one of the most important and widely used ingredients in the sweet and beverage industry. Chocolate continuously remains one of the top flavors in NPD launches across various categories including beverages, bakery and confectionery. For Kerry, this means that in 2019, the company will seek to deliver the best cocoa tastes for its consumers, according to Michel Aubaunel, Kerry Flavour Ingredients Global Development Manager.

Aubaunel notes that consumers love the taste of cocoa, and while chocolate is often seen as high in sugar, cocoa is perceived by consumers as beneficial to their health. “We are continuing to extend and adapt our offerings to fulfill consumer expectations of cocoa preferences by regions and countries, but we also aim to deliver to emerging consumers looking for new experiences with more origin,” he says.

Even though there is a trend towards healthier snacking, the need for premium and indulgence products is also growing, allowing for an increase of the global consumption of cocoa products, notes Aubaunel. “At Kerry, we have seen an increased demand for more cocoa and chocolate extracts which means we have increased our purchase of cocoa nibs and natural powders over the last several years.”

Since cocoa is one of the most used flavors in the industry, it is no surprise that it is a competitive space. Aubaunel also highlights that forecasted demand for cocoa ingredients outweighs supply, ultimately pushing the price up. “We work directly with suppliers which gives us a lot of flexibility to deliver the extracts and flavors consumers love without depending on a third party,” he adds.

There are also several challenges in relation to the sourcing of cocoa due to the limited growing zones which are bounded by 20° latitude north and 20° latitude south and the fact that the plant needs a hot, humid climate and a relatively low altitude. This means that weather plays a significant role in the crop yield and quality, says Aubaunel, and there is also a limited supply of certified cocoa such as organic, for which there is a growing market demand.

“To overcome these challenges it is important to have a solid supply base with full supply chain transparency from the farmers to the end users,” he explains.

Kerry has extensive expertise in cocoa sourcing and extraction with unique processing technologies in different sites across Brazil, China and Europe. This has enabled the company to develop “a broad and comprehensive range of extracts with different sensory profiles to meet consumer expectations; from clear distillates to highly concentrated extracts, to flavoring top notes,” Aubaunel reveals. The range of cocoa extracts and flavors are available in liquid, powder or granulated form and work in a wide range of applications – from ice-cream to yogurts and desserts, confectionery, fillings, soft drinks, nutritional beverages and savory applications.

“We frequently see more growth in its (cocoa) use in savory applications, building on the famous Mexican sauce Poblano Mole,” Aubaunel notes.

How the food industry uses cocoa
In the food industry, cocoa powder is used to deliver taste, color and aroma in various applications. Using cocoa powders can cause issues for manufacturers as they can create dust in the plant and cause abrasion of equipment. They are also subject to price volatility and inconsistency in taste. To overcome this, it is recommended that enough cocoa powder is used for an appropriate consistency and color and then the taste is adjusted with cocoa extracts and flavors. Cocoa can vary widely in flavor and aroma, meaning the most suitable extract or flavor to match the desired taste profile is highly sought-after.

Ensuring the right flavor profile of cocoa
Delivering great chocolate and cocoa flavors begins with the cocoa bean. This means knowing where the cocoa comes from and having a close relationship with the suppliers of cocoa powder and nibs is vital.

There are three main cocoa sub-species which each offer a different cocoa bean variety – Forastero, Trinitario and Criollo. Various conditions of fermentation and roasting such as temperature, acidity and duration can alter the flavor of the bean. It takes expertise to transform the cocoa bean into the best-tasting cocoa extracts, distillates and infusions and deliver a broad range of extracts with different sensory profiles to meet consumer expectations.

According to Aubaunel, Kerry sources both low-fat and high-fat cocoa powder and cocoa nibs from distributors and farming partners who have been supplying the market for generations, while ensuring consistency of quality (taste, visual and moisture) and that every order received is checked against quality control gold standards.

“Consumers are increasingly looking for the country of origin in the foods they are consuming. Kerry’s cocoa extracts are fully traceable with a declarable origin and all natural labeling. We also have a range of certified organic extracts to suit the growing organic market,” Aubaunel concludes.

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