The business is developing seven new products, founder Ty Cherry told ConfectioneryNews, and will be bringing three or four to market over the next three months.
Among the new products are bags of 15 five-gram individual chocolate squares; chocolate chips; a chocolate spread that contains no nuts, dairy, or other allergens; and a co-developed product using matcha tea.
Innocent Chocolate’s products contain natural enzyme inhibitors that slow the absorption of sugars, starches, and bind the fat, according to Cherry.
“What it means is the overall blood sugar response is substantially lower than a product that contains sugar or other high glycemic ingredients,” he said. “This is why it is good for people who want to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, and manage their weight.”
The products contain 77% dark chocolate and use natural sweeteners including erythritol and stevia.
“Artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, are not acceptable in our view,” said Cherry. “To accomplish this we first chose to avoid any and all allergens or non-natural ingredients, and then we begin working with some of the top flavor profilers in the world.”
“We appeal to everyone who likes chocolate, and in particular those looking for the healthiest possible product,” he added.
When the South Florida-based business started up four years ago to help with childhood obesity and diabetes, it had not intended to produce chocolate. But Cherry began using chocolate about two years ago because of its broad appeal to consumers, particularly children.
This year, Cherry is aiming to grow brand awareness among the health and supplement industry, and educate the public on the risks of high sugar intake, diabetes, and obesity - and how natural products can help offset those issues.
“We’ll also strengthen our sales base in retail and food service, particularly in our local region,” he said.
Although still relatively small, and with a limited market share, the company has caught national attention and is to roll out to more than 2,000 Kroger Foods locations this summer.
“We have been asked to sell to Germany, the UK, China and parts of the Asian bowl,” said Cherry.”These are currently under discussion, however we are still focused on our local region and a national US market. We are being quite cautious not to over grow.”
In the meantime, Innocent Chocolate’s work with the food service industry has been growing rapidly, said Cherry. “This is actually one of our largest targets because our product is designed to supplement other foods.”
Supplemented chocolate is growing
Chocolate has always been part of the supplement industry as a flavoring, Cherry said.
“Chocolate is an excellent flavor mask, and we at Innocent have taken advantage of this.”
Overall, Cherry added, chocolate was playing an increasingly stronger role as a carrier for supplements.
“We like to think of Innocent Chocolate as somewhat of a hybrid between artisanal and commercial production,” he added. “We hope to be a trendsetter in the industry for getting healthy chocolate out there."