Phytobase is introducing a new organic dark chocolate bonbon at Whole Foods stores in the US that contains healthy ingredients at the cutting edge of the functional foods trend.
The US-based research food technology company last year introduced a chocolate aimed at women containing Amazonian berry Borojo, which researchers have claimed acts as an aphrodisiac and boosts energy levels. In 2004 it introduced ChocoLeans, a product said to help control the appetite.
Now Phytobase is extending this offering with a new product called Amoriss, which taps into some of the hottest trends in the functional foods and nutraceuticals market - superfruits and resveratrol.
The new product looks to take the intrinsic healthy reputation of dark chocolate, which has been found to have a high content of antioxidants, to a new level. Such products are repositioning chocolate away from being just a luxury, indulgent product towards a healthier profile.
Amoriss is said to contain the antioxidant-rich superfruits acai, mangosteen, goji, pomegranate, rhosiola rosea, as well as red wine extract ("health healthy benefits without the alcohol") and resveratrol.
The term 'superfruit' refers to any fruit that has a particularly high antioxidant content or is packed full of other beneficial nutrients. Resveratrol is an antioxidant compound found in red wine, grapes, raspberries, peanuts and blueberries, which in turn fall under the umbrella group of superfoods.
Antioxidants, meanwhile, are understood to prevent cellular damage by preventing the formation of free radicals, atoms that are formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules. These free radicals can, in turn, damage DNA and pave the way towards serious illness like cancer, other diseases, and outward signs of ageing.
Phytobase CEO Sam Gur told ConfectioneryNews.com that the formulation was developed by the company's own PhD in physiology and plants chemistry.
"The formula was developed to be effective, each ingredient working synergistically with each other, and, at the same time not to overwhelm the pallet," he said.
He added that each 12g, individually-wrapped chocolate contains 1.2g of extracts. The overall taste will be a "hint of fruits, which compliment the complex chocolate taste".
As consumer tastes become more exotic and research stacks up on the antioxidant content of fruits from far-flung corners of the globe, there is a strong pull towards products that flag content of fruits like acai, goji and pomegrate - even if they do not make explicit health claims.
By association with the whole fruits themselves, superfruit flavours are being developed to increase the consumer draw of a range of packaged foods; superfruit juices have also been identified as a trend for the beverage industry.
Moreover, Phytobase is taking a double-pronged approach to its marketing of the Amoriss product, since it says it can also be melted and applied to the skin on the face, as a "nourishing, moisturizing and antioxidant facemask treatment for healthy-looking skin".
While saying that the response to Amoriss so far has been "remarkable", Gur said that ChocoLeans was the first satiety dark chocolate to come to market.
"Being a bit early in the trends has its rewards and challenges," he said. "The satiety trend is at full speed right now in various sectors, and ChocoLeans are becoming more and more popular."
ChocoLeans are sold in upscale health stores across the US, and through E-tailors.
Gur added: "The wellness industry is transforming from reacting to a problem to preventing it, with more and more consumers becoming conscious in how they live their lives."
Phytobase's aim, he said, is to allow people to improve well being, by simply eating a piece of chocolate, drinking a cup of coffee, etc - and making it an experience that is about more than just the taste.
Phytobase is not the only company seeking to attract health-conscious chocolate fans.
Last month chocolate giant Barry Callebaut announced what it says are the first chocolates containing probiotic bacteria to come on the market, developed in collaboration with Lal'Foods (Lallemand-Institut Rossel).
This product is said to be an effective vehicle for delivering four times as many live bacteria to the gut, where they exert their healthy action, as traditional dairy formats.
Hershey-owned Dagoba also launched a Superfruit organic dark chocolate product containing acai, currants and goji berries at the beginning of this year.
The other launches in the Dagoba line were Lemon Ginger, Nibs and Seeds. The products were intended to encourage consumers to keep eating luxury goods - albeit with a healthy edge - into the traditional January dieting season.