ConfectioneryNews.com caught up with Hans Vriens, chief innovation officer with global chocolate supplier Barry Callebaut at the industry trade show Pro Sweets, where he spilled the beans on the future for functional chocolate.
Vriens argues that the market potential for chocolate based products combining indulgence with real health benefits will be huge and he highlighted the opportunities that exist currently for players of all sizes to put chocolate eating beyond that of the guilty pleasure.
Developments underway, he explained, include the addition of prebiotics to chocolate bars, with research demonstrating that chocolate is three times more effective than a dairy drink in terms of being a delivery mechanism for the prebiotic benefit on gut health. A tooth friendly chocolate is also in the innovation pipeline, while a lot of work is well underway, revealed Vriens, into producing chocolate products containing omega-3 or optimising the cocoa bean's antioxidant potential.
And consumer interest in health boosting confectionery is real, he adds. A survey of 25,000 shoppers throughout North America and the EU indicated that there would be a rapid uptake of chocolate products that had the potential to capture free radicals, elevate a person's mood, improve memory or even benefit heart health, added Vriens.