Paul Frantellizzi set up US functional chocolate firm Good Cacao in 2009.
Chocolate the best delivery mechanism
“Chocolate is a phenomenal delivery mechanism for functional ingredients,” he said.
Frantellizzi previously ran a healthy and organic food company focused on the vending market: NextGen Vending and Earth Pure Organics.
But when global markets took a dive in 2008-09 he decided to wind up the business. He'd been developing functional foods just before closing the business, and saw an opportunity to sell such products in retail channels.
“The best way I could see delivering functional food was through chocolate."
Good Cacao products and factory
He set up Good Cacao which started producing Coconut Omega-3 and Lemon Ginger Immunity dark chocolate around a year and half ago. Sales proved strong.
The US is currently the firm’s focus, but it is scoping the Canadian market and one day hopes to move into international markets.
Products are currently produced in Idaho and the firm will soon move into a new 20,000 sq ft facility in the same state.
Good Cacao’s range is currently sold in Vitamin Shoppe, Whole Foods Market and 1,200 small-to-medium
-sized health stores in the US.
Going mainstream with education
Frantellizzi said he wants to move into mainstream retail but education is key, particularly given the $4.98 price tag; consumers could overcome high price points if they knew more about the benefits of the products. Growth through education is therefore the company’s 2013 priority.
Dr Michael Murray , author of several books on healthy foods, is Good Cacao director of R&D and part of his role is to raise awareness of the health benefits of functional chocolate.
The cost challenge
“It’s a real challenge to keep our input costs down,” said Frantellizzi, adding that manufacturing products in-house made things more expensive, keeping price points high for consumers in mainstream retail.
The company opted for sugar over sweeteners such as stevia largely due to cost.
“I’m a huge anti-sugar fan, but it’s a challenge in the chocolate industry,” said Frantellizzi.
His company also manufactures PlantSWEET, a fiber-based sweetener with stevia.
“But adding that to chocolate would rise costs and take us out of the mainstream market."
All Good Cacao products use single origin Ecuadorian cocoa, which Frantellizzi said is recognized as a high quality chocolate that could help it move into the mainstream.
Functional ingredients of the future
According to Frantellizzi, Coconut Omega-3 had been the firm’s bestselling product, but it had recently been outstripped by new product Weight Loss Mandarin Orange – which contains WellTrim an African Mango extract from Icon Group - that claims to improve the function of leptin to regulate appetite.
Asked which functional ingredient would make the biggest impact in 2013, he said: “The one I’m most excited about is our next launch with FruitFlow by DSM.”
FruitFlow is a highly concentrated tomato concentrate that prevents platelet aggregation to help with blood flow. It is has GRAS status in the US and has an approved EFSA article 13.5 health claim in the EU.
“It has so much potential in chocolate for middle age men and women,” said Frantellizzi
Good Cacao will be using the ingredient in two launches: its Nutra Heart bar and Cardio bar.
The company has partnered with a host of ingredients companies such as DSM, Martek and Fuiji Sciences to gain expertise.
“They bring horsepower and industry knowledge,” said Frantellizzi.
Good Cacao has an innovation lab which analyses how functional ingredients react with heat and lipid exposure.
The firm encountered challenges incorporating resveratrol as it was difficult to get a stable variety with the right flavor profile.
They ended up with a 95% certified organic resveratrol that could achieve stability.
Frantellizzi said that all chocolate was processed at under 90°C to preserve the functional properties of ingredients.