Dispatches from SIAL

New product design for confectionery targets the pleasure axis

By Lindsey Partos in Paris

- Last updated on GMT

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Innovations in pleasure and sophistication gained pace from 2006 to 2007, mirrored by the innovative new confectionery product designs highlighted at this year's SIAL food exhibition that opened its doors yesterday in Paris.

Dubbed a 'hub of the global food sector', SIAL's organisers anticipate over 145,000 visitors to walk through the doors this week, with the large majority – three out of four visitors in the past – perusing the show's 'Trends & Innovations Observatory'.

This year's new product selection encased therein – and designed to provide a glimpse of future trends – reveals over 240 products handpicked by the judges for their innovative qualities.

In the area of confectionery, the selection displayed a heavy presence of organic dark chocolate, linked to pleasure and sophistication, some with a nod to environmental and sustainable concerns. Others hinted at the whimsical, and not even a handful linked to health.

Merging on health

But wholly embracing the powerful health phenomenon, Belgian chocolate maker NewTree has merged the growing trend for sophistication and 'medical' in one chocolate bar.

Its product neatly spans health and pleasure, a phenomenon slated to grow in 2009. New product tracker XTC's CEO Xavier Terlet claimed "the pleasure and health axis will increasingly merge together,"​ he told sister site FoodNavigator.com at SIAL on Sunday.

Launched with the brand name Alpha onto the market in April this year, the bar is enriched with omega-3 via the addition of flaxseeds, a source of plant omega-3. From heart health benefits to boosted cognitive performance, omega-3 ingredients are increasingly used by food makers in their formulations to enhance the health profile of the finished product.

Mintel’s Global New Product Database estimates there were 723 omega-3-bearing product launches in Europe in 2007 compared to 291 in 2005. In North America there were 541 debuts in 2007 and 315 in 2005.

Formulation challenges

But formulating recipes to include these ingredients represents a challenge for the developers. Recognising these difficulties implicitly, judges on SIAL's innovations committee highlighted NewTree's product for its innovative "technology and manufacturing process".

Further, they stated that the bars were selected "for the healthy promise associated with a pleasure promise through the originality of flavours."

Speaking at SIAL, a spokesperson from NewTree told ConfectioneryNews.com that key challenges in formulating the Alpha chocolate bar were "to create a good balance between taste, flavour and texture."

The omega-3 80g bar is delivered in three different flavours: chilli, thyme, and dark.

Falling into the trends of ecology, citizenship and naturality, Spain's Brand Stand this month launched a range of organic chocolates that "fight climate change."

Indeed, firmly positioned in a green ethos gaining momentum across the food industry, according to the firm, that works in partnership with the World Land Trust, every bar purchased will save one tropical rainforest tree from being destroyed.

With a shelf life of 18 months, the bar flavours include the plant extract rooibus together with raspberry, cinnamon and chili, and Indian spice.

Sustainable trends

Also moving into the growing trends for ecology, citizenship and naturality – all of which, according to market trackers XTC, rose in terms of product innovations from 2006 to 2007 – judges from the SIAL committee selected Dolfin's organic chocolate flakes for "their fairtrade alternative to chocolate flakes."

Launched in September this year, the judges highlighted the innovative qualities of the product – on the market as Tohi-chocolate belge bio & fairtrade – In terms of formulation, packaging and market positioning.

In terms of whimsical and whacky, the SIAL committee selected French firm Zucceroo's sugar product for "the funny packaging."

Presented in playful, transparent tubes akin to artists’ oil paint tubes, their brightly coloured crystal sugar is hard to miss. Clearly visible through the clear tubes, the vibrant crystal colours range from azure to vermillion, spanning gold, silver, pink and purple, lemon and green in between.

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