Chocolate trends: Atypical flavors, free from and health are hot tickets
Demand for premium chocolate is at an all-time high, primarily driven by the wave of artisan chocolate producers putting more emphasis on the bean-to-bar concept.
These makers, too, are bringing innovation into the sector, particularly with interesting and sometime bizarre flavor pairings.
ConfectioneryNews attended The Chocolate Show, held at London Olympia, UK, last month, to investigate the latest trends from the over 100 chocolatiers showcasing their products.
The single origin trend continues but finds itself paired more with provenance and origin. For example, it is not just enough to offer salted caramel, as the salt also needs provenance, like Himalayan sea salt.
Outlandish pairings are piquing a lot of interest in the sector.
Self-taught chocolatier Aneesh Popat – listed among the 1,000 most influential Londoners in 2013 – said he uses many of the Indian flavors of his heritage to create the awarding-winning chocolates for his company, The Chocolatier.
Pairing spices with tropical fruits, such as apple & cumin and pear & black salt, are among his top sellers, although it has not stopped him from pushing the boundaries with radical flavors like beetroot & cabernet sauvignon vinegar.
For its offering for the 2017 holiday season, high street chocolatier R Chocolate London, has harked back to Christmas favorites like cinnamon, gingerbread, orange spice and sloe gin. The company also creates bespoke champagne, whiskey and lemon verbena chocolates.
There was a plethora of other exotic flavors seen at The Chocolate Show, including herbs like chilli, fennel, basil and cardamom, a strong Asian influence with matcha green tea, miso, wasabi and soy sauce, and even vegetables like kale.
Erik Brunn Bindslev from the American-based Guittard Chocolate Company - that produces couverture chocolate – said currently trending are interesting flavors brought about by mixing different types of beans, varietals and genetics, much like creating different wines.
In addition, innovators are experimenting with fermentation, again to produce different nuances and notes.
* Free from
Adrian Ling – a 30-year veteran of the chocolate industry and MD of the newly launched So Free range, has made it his mission to bring fun, taste and enjoyment back to the free from category and make it mainstream.
He said dairy-free, gluten-free and nut-free are important concepts to modern consumers, and although still niche in chocolate, are definitely growing categories.
Likewise, ethically produced and environmental-friendly chocolate really matter to today’s consumer and several of the larger chocolate confectionery companies, like Mondelēz, Hershey and Barry Callebaut, are focussed on bringing the chocolate industry into line.
Cocoa’s natural antioxidants and minerals mean it is also becoming popular, and in the health space.
Now in its fifth year, The Chocolate Show is run in partnership with Chocolate Week to raise awareness of the chocolate industry and highlight talent from across the globe.
Turmeric and so-called ‘superfoods’ like goji berries are becoming favorites to enhance the healthier aspects of chocolate, which has typically been criticized as a high sugar, high fat treat.
However, according to Charlotte Green from Divine Chocolate, many consumers are realizing that a higher cocoa content means a lower sugar content, and this is boosting sales in the dark chocolate segment.