Naturex CEO Olivier Rigaud told us the licensing deal between the two European giants had nothing to do with any perceived under-performance of the cocoa flavanols Barry Callebaut has been selling as a cocoa powder and dark chocolate, and everything to do with its expertise in supplements.
“Barry Callebaut still strongly believe in the product but they do not necessarily have the go-to-market organisation to sell ingredients which is our field of expertise,” said Rigaud.
“We also know how to translate the health claim into the market. This is what matters – you have to have very strong science but at the same time you have to make it readable and understandable for the end consumer.”
“It makes sense to launch in Europe but we will also look at where else we can take it. But we think there is a good ground here in Europe to start with.”
Euromonitor International puts the global functional chocolate at about €280m with western Europe worth about €80m.
The approved claim is:“cocoa flavanols help maintain the elasticity of blood vessels, which contributes to normal blood flow.”
The US and Asia were other potential markets, Rigaud said, for the nutrient that won a positive opinion for blood circulation benefits from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in 2012 under article 13.5 of the nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR) that offers five years protection of claims based on emerging and proprietary science.
The claim became usable across the EU’s 28 member states in 2013 and was extended to food supplements in April this year by the European Commission. The claim in food supplements is therefore protected until April 2020.
“This is pretty unique and we will market this product on the back of a great EFSA health claim in Europe which will give the product a lot of credentials,” Rigaud.
Naturex will use its patented technology to extract the premium, cocoa flavanols from Barry Callebaut beans.
The deal relates just to food supplements and Barry Callebaut will continue to offer cocoa flavanols for the niche functional chocolate sector globally under its Acticoa brand in powders and dark chocolate.
Barry Callebaut did not share any details about the performance of the brand.
Rigaud said the nutrient would join Naturex’s CocoaActif range but “we might going forward launch a new brand before the end of the first half in 2016.”
He said Barry Callebaut had passed several “points of interest” with potential clients to Naturex.