Protein chocolate brand Cocoa Plus was established by operations manager Samuel Victor in December last year and has since added seasonal variants.
New to the confectionery market
In an interview with ConfectioneryNews, Victor said consumers went “absolutely crazy” for the firm’s protein Easter eggs this year.
“It’s not something that’s really been seen in the industry,” he said, adding that the company plans a protein chocolate advent calendar later this year.
Cocoa Plus is listed online and at independent stores in the UK. The company has also been exhibiting at trade fairs such as Body Power Expo, the UK’s largest health & fitness consumer show, to increase its reach.
Victor said the brand was launched in response to a gap in the market for good-tasting protein chocolate with simple ingredients.
“Most bars coming into the market were full of ingredients, as many as 30 in a bar,” he said. “We wanted something that tasted good with the least amount of ingredients.”
“Right now there’s no-one really doing this. But we expect people to work on a rival product,” he continued.
Self-confessed health and fitness fanatic Victor claimed many athletes had to compromise on taste when consuming protein products.
“Most people want to eat chocolate even if they are following healthy diets, so this [CocoaPlus] gives them more incentive.”
High protein from whey
Each 70 g bar contains 19 g of protein – which Victor said was equivalent to eating a chicken breast or a can of tuna.
The brand uses whey protein isolate, which the operations manager described as the “purest form of protein".
The company will soon launch a smaller 40 g product with 12 g of protein.
The brand uses a “high protein” claim in line with EU guidance that 20% of the energy value of the food is provided by protein.
High fiber with 50% cocoa
The larger bars also contain 9 g of fiber – coming from the cocoa - and the carries a ‘high in fiber’ claim.
“That’s something people are looking for as people are missing fiber,” said Victor.
A 2014 study published in the journal Cell Metabolism said a typical westerner consumes half the fiber recommended in some dietary guidelines.
Cocoa Plus contains 50% cocoa solids, which Victor said is more than most protein chocolate bars.
The product does not use Barry Callebaut’s high cocoa flavanol chocolate Acticoa, but Victor said the company may explore it in future.
Price points and sugar content
Larger Cocoa Plus bars come with a recommended retail price of £2.99 ($4.31).
Victor said this made the brand slightly more expensive than most 50 g protein snack bars, which tend retail for £2 ($2.88). However, he said the cost was on par with most protein chocolate confectionery.
The large bars each have 18 g of sugar. Victor said the company could explore alternative sweeteners but wanted to use naturally occurring ingredients and it was not fond of stevia’s aftertaste.
“Xylitol and maltitol are natural, but if you use a polyol, you need a laxative warning,” he said. “That’s not something we’re keen to put on our product.”
Major listings and international expansion
The Cocoa Plus operations manager said a large UK retailer had expressed interest in the brand, while he expects a bright future inside vending machines as stockists look to healthier snacks.
“We want to get major listings under our name and enter the international market,” he continued.
The company sees the Middle East as a big opportunity.
“It seems there’s a big health trend in the region – it’s growing really quickly. We see it as a strategic market,” said Victor.