“We can’t talk about it yet, but it’s completely new,” said chief innovations officer Hans Vriens. “We’ll be selling it like our other products in formats suitable for use in a wide variety of recipes.”
The company is refusing to give any further details, but has confirmed to this publication that the product is “totally different” from its US launch in June of a chocolate containing a blend of stevia extract and other natural sweeteners.
No laxative effect
The company said in June that its US launch would help food manufacturers meet growing consumer demand for healthier, all-natural products that offer great taste with fewer calories. The dark, stevia-sweetened chocolate is now being rolled out in the North, Central and South American markets.
Barry Callebaut replaced sugar in the American product with a blend of dietary fibres, the natural sugar alcohol erythritol and stevia extract. The no-sugar-added chocolate does not produce a laxative effect, and the company claims that it offers the same taste, texture and aroma as traditional chocolate.
“With obesity and obesity-related illnesses on the rise in the Americas, food manufacturers are continually evaluating the sugar and sweetener levels in their finished products in order to meet consumer demand for healthier options,” said Laura Bergan, marketing manager for Barry Callebaut North America’s food manufacturing division.
“Barry Callebaut’s unique sweetening solution is based on a blend of ingredients from a natural source, offering the perfect balance of indulgence and nutrition.”
Waiting for stevia
Stevia extract - chiefly the steviol glycoside Reb A – is still working its way through the final stages of the lengthy approvals process for novel foods in the European Union. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) gave stevia a positive safety assessment in early 2010, and this was followed in July this year by member state approval at the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH).
A spokesman for the European Commission said after the vote that it paved the way for full approval by the end of this year. Stevia-fortified products could then hit EU shelves in early 2012.