Patent Watch

'It's too milky!': Unilever files patent to control color of aerated chocolate

By Oliver Nieburg

- Last updated on GMT

Consumers doubt the quality of aerated chocolate because it appears milkier than regular chocolate, says Unilever. Photo Credit: theimpulsebuy
Consumers doubt the quality of aerated chocolate because it appears milkier than regular chocolate, says Unilever. Photo Credit: theimpulsebuy

Related tags Patent cooperation treaty Patent Unilever

Adding low levels of red and black pigments to chocolate prior to aeration can prevent aerated chocolate from getting lighter and potentially putting off consumers, according to a patent filed by Unilever.

In a patent application​ published this month, the firm said that aerated chocolate tended to be lighter than regular chocolate, which led consumers to believe the product was milkier and made with a reduced cocoa content.

Alleviating negative consumer perceptions

“Depending on the context, this may give an impression of reduced quality chocolate,” ​said its application. “It has now been found that it is possible to aerate chocolate while preserving its colour by adding a carefully selected pigment.”

This involves adding red and black non aqueous pigments at 0.1- 1.5% weight with a red to black ratio of between 3:1 and 1:1 prior to aeration.

The discovery was made by Unilever’s UK R&D team Nooshin Haj Hassan and Andrew Hoddle, who is a specialist in chocolate for ice cream applications.

Unilever: Aerating before re-melting no longer necessary

Nestlé filed a patent in 2011​ that sought to solve the color problem, but Unilever said that Nestlé’s method defeated the purpose of using aerated chocolate as unaerated chocolate was still required as a topping.

Unilever claimed that its method was the better solution. It said that the pigment method worked best using mechanical aeration through a high speed stirrer, a high speed whisk or a homogenizer.

The company added that a key advantage of its method was that the aerated chocolate color and structure was maintained when re-melted

“This is important as chocolate compositions are often supplied in a solid form and re-melted just prior to use. This advantage obviates the need for the user to aerate the chocolate composition just prior to use saving on equipment costs and time,”​ said the firm.

Nestlé zero gravity tests

Popular aerated chocolates include Nestlé’s Aero and Cadbury’s Wispa.

Nestlé last year conducted elaborate experiments on zero gravity flights​ aiming to prevent bubbles in chocolate and coffee become distorted. It said that it later hoped to conduct experiments in space.

Unilever in confectionery

Unilever uses chocolate mainly as a coating in its ice cream products. It has a global supply agreement with Barry Callebaut.

The company recently entered the UK confectionery market through a licensing deal with Kinnerton Confectionery​ to make chocolate versions of its popular ice cream brands Magnum, Cornetto and Mini Milk.

Unilever’s patent was filed under The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), an international patent law treaty that allows a uniform patent to be considered by signatory national or regional authorities.

Signatories to the PCT will now decide whether or not to grant the patent.

Related topics R&D Chocolate